Apple has Siri, Google has its Now service, and Microsoft has Cortana. All of these voice-activated services can bring you information quickly and easily without having to type anything into your smartphone. Speak and within seconds you're provided with either an answer or somewhere you can find it.
Unfortunately, they can't always comprehend what you say or interpret the meaning properly. Sure, you could ask strangers your questions using something like AskInternets, but what if you could ask a dedicated group of researchers?
OOLOO, from iDrive (known for their online data and computer backup services), is a voice-based search application that allows users to ask questions which are then answered by a team of responders, available 24/7 and in human form.
Tap on the large yellow microphone icon in OOLOO to begin asking questions. Once you're done asking your question (you have up to a minute), tap on the stop button to quit recording. Write any tags (which are meant for you to easily find old questions you asked), then post your question.
A push notification will be sent to your device once the question is answered, which you can access by tapping on the question you asked. Your answer will arrive in text form and may include images and links to provide more information.
In the screenshots below, you can see the answer to my question, "When is the next time Halley's Comet will be visible from Earth?" I received the answer fifteen minutes after I asked it, with a much more thorough response than I expected.
Other information included the name of the person that answered my question, the time at which they answered it, and a link to additional information on the subject. Rate answers with "Awesome", "Good" or "Meh" at the bottom of your response, which in turn helps improve the application.
Along with the Halley's Comet question, I also asked OOLOO where the three nearest In N' Out restaurants were in relation to Disneyland. I received the three addresses promptly, with a personal sentence at the bottom of the query (giving the whole thing that human touch that's desired at times).
While it may seem that non-instantaneous response may render OOLOO inferior to automated and algorithm-based services, the company is relatively new, so expect to receive quicker replies in the near future.
OOLOO also has several advantages over "intelligent personal assistants", like the capacity to understand complex questions, for example, and it's this ability that sets OOLOO apart from other apps, as I'll always receive an answer from a real person that can comprehend something much better than a machine can.
OOLOO's popularity is already showing through thousands of downloads across various countries. So many queries are being asked at the moment that they have had to make questions exclusive to those in the United States. This should quickly change once they adjust to the demand, but it goes to show how much people desire help from an actual person and not just an intelligent personal assistant. Let me us know what you think in the comments below.