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Microsoft launches Apple Siri rival

Apple’s voice recognition software Siri is set to do battle with Microsoft, as the tech giant announces it is to launch a rival piece of software.

Siri was the key feature on the iPhone 4S when it was released last year, distracting Apple customers from the fact that the 4S was a bit of disappointment.

Siri was something of a revelation. Voice recognition software is nothing new, but the way Apple adapted and improved it gave us something completely different.

iPhone 4S voice control

As well as the usual commands to find a contact or make a call, iPhone 4S users everywhere had hours of fun asking the software all kinds of ridiculous questions. And more often than not, they would get an equally ridiculous answer.

So it is little wonder that rival tech companies have started to think about how they can improve their own voice recognition software to be more like Siri.

First we had reports that Google is currently developing Majel – a Siri-a-like piece of software named after Majel Barrett-Roddenberry – the voice of the Federation Computer in Star Trek.

We are still yet to see Majel make it on to Android phones, but as the smartphone battle heats up this year Google will be keen to keep pace with Apple.

Ask Ziggy for Windows Phone

And now we have Ask Ziggy, another Siri-a-like piece of software for the Windows Phone operating system.

Ask Ziggy is not made by Microsoft but by an independent developer. Also, it won’t be installed on a Windows Phone (for now at least) but will be available as a free app on the Windows Store.

But that is where the differences end, as Ask Ziggy is almost identical to Siri in every way. It works in the same way, by transcribing your speech on to the screen.

This means that, like Siri, Ask Ziggy is able to give surprisingly in-depth answers to even the oddest question. We’re not sure how happy Apple will be about this, but for Windows Phone users it is great news.