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Ask Ziggy briefly busted but major overhaul on the horizon. Exclusive first pics.

Ask Ziggy Overhauled!

We covered Ask Ziggy last month and it sure gained a lot of attention. While the Siri-like app itself was a great first start, it certainly lacked the ability to do some basic functions like tell the weather or what time it is. Still, for being done by one guy it did do some neat tricks as our video pointed out (see after the break for a refresher).

Currently though, Ask Ziggy's Nuance engine is on the fritz. It's a temporary problem that has to do with basically too many people using it. The exceeded limits though should be restored soon, so sit tight. And it's fixed already!

But the big news, as you can peep from the screenshots, is the huge overhaul the app is getting for the next version. Ask Ziggy is getting all "Metrofied" as many of you had requested and boy, do we like the look. On top of that it handles a lot more functionality, including:

  • Weather
  • Time
  • Reminders
  • Maps/Geolocation

Ask Ziggy Overhauled!

And we hear there's a lot more in the works. In fact, the developer, Shai Leib, is now working full-time on this project meaning we can expect some serious changes in the coming months.

Ask Ziggy: maps

No word on ETA for the next version but we'll keep you posted with a hands on as soon as we can. Certainly though we're very excited about where this is going. Folks, take our word, you haven't seen anything yet.

You can pick up the current version here in the Marketplace for free, but until Nuance resets their limits, it may not work.

Updated: Added Map/Geolocation pics. Also, Nuance is working again!

QR: Ask Ziggy

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Reader comments

Ask Ziggy briefly busted but major overhaul on the horizon. Exclusive first pics.

49 Comments

I hope he will demand some $'s for his work, this way he can afford working on it full time and the rate won't be exceeded this fast.

Excellent news! I think the app can use work in its current state, both design and functionality wise. But I'm glad the developer is taking this project seriously and is heading to what I can see in a very right direction. If this application ends up even third as good as Siri with this new update, I'll be very impressed!
If you think about, this developer is doing by himself (or with small help), what companies like Microsoft and Apple spend millions on buying. I hope his work pays off. Either in a substatial pay off from the marketplace, or better yet, perhaps a whole buyout from Microsoft or another company.

Well, I hope they improve the App... As at present, it can't understand English sometimes!

When it works, it works well! But at times I scream at it 'coz it doesn't understand something like convert 4 miles in kilometres... And think I said convert 4 mills for killmont?!?

Hmmmmm

I agree with this statement. I feel weird having to repeat my words in a different way so ziggy can understand.

Very awkward at times, particularly when I'm trying to one up my friends with iPhone.

I hope they put some effort into UI after functionality is improved. As it is, those balloons are terrible, with that streched out "triangle".

Will multiple language support come as well. It seems to be a major hurdle to make the app useful in other countries. WP7 already has Tell Me, which most probably will not support other languages. It would be nice (and competitive) to add multiple language input support.

Well I had some problems with this app and its discriminating responses.....i for one would rather have more features baked into tell me than some low budget Seri knock off.....we all know what ms have planned for tell me , so we just have to wait for Microsoft.

Seriously? Ziggy gets his answers from the internet, if you get racist responses it's because the internet is racist

The responses are from different web based sources, but I will do my best to add a filter for responses. I don't like those responses either and I have flagged them at their sources. I hope they are taken down.

Seriously? You understand that Ask Ziggy doesn't have a brain on its own and just a processor and aggregator right? Never mind, I'm not sure you understand that. But though he can add filters for profanity and racism and all in future but it's not a priority IMO.

If I had to pick one thing to improve this app it would be functionality over the design, gets frustrating repeating yourself so it understands

I would also pay for this app to support the developer!!.. Whether or not it equals or exceeds Siri is not so important. It's still a very good product.

For a one-man project, Ziggy is very impressive. Sure, I could nit-pick it like some others are, but let's face it... as a non-developer, I sure couldn't do better in such a short time.
Honestly, I think Microsoft needs to hire this guy and get him involved in Tell Me. Give him some resources, time, and a team and let's show off just how much better Microsoft can be.

Good news the developer is working very hard improve this potentially great app, I wish MS steps in to to help him. I was very impressed with this app at first and thought it was going to get better with time but at some point it began to disappoint. I had to go back to WhatIs which currently works far better than Ask Ziggy

The point the article is trying to make is it is getting a lot more than that in the future.

Either way, it's still better than the alternative we have now which is, let me check, oh that's right....nothing.

The first question I asked this app was if I looked good and it responded saying something along the lines of me being an "ugly f•cker." I was so appalled I immediately deleted the app.

I dunno, that's kind of an appropiate response for asking such a stupid thing. What kind of answer would have been "good" for you? lol

I think you need to post a pic of yourself...we'll all then judge. :-D

Obviously I didn't really want to know if the phone thought I looked good. I asked that question to compare the app to Siri.

 
This is just a glorified voice search engine. There's no cognition on this program; it's just a voice-activated search engine and aggregator. I don't mean to offend the developer, I think its a great app, it's just WP7 users (I exclude myself in this instance), are a little bit too jealous of Siri, and desperately want something to represent WP7.
 
Seriously, just wait until the next TellMe on Apollo. I know someone that knows someone (cliche, I know), and besides the obvious, well-known fact that TellMe will be inevitably updated when Apollo arrives, I can tell you (becuase that's all I know, really), that it will be competitive with Siri. I was told much of the Siri-like functionality was actually planned for Mango, but it wasn't there yet. Believe me or not, you will be surprised. :)

"This is just a glorified voice search engine. There's no cognition on this program; it's just a voice-activated search engine and aggregator. "

Today yes. What's coming? Not necessarily. 

I try to write between the lines here sometimes at WPC but damn, sometimes I need to write literal for you guys :-/

I think to many times people over look racist comments which is why so many people say things that are hurtful. I think if the app continued with its racist responses ,no one would give up the app. Yet if people at the company were receiving low wages everyone will respond by deleting the app.....its such a shame that racist attitudes are tolerated,the proof being the people that voted up its responses .

I say to the maker of the app I would gladly accept and apology from you, and the realization that you still have to be held accountable for the content you app spews out racist or not.......i wish everyone felt that every app maker is responsible for the content of the app.

This application is not for you. You are obviously one of those 'butt-hurt' types who just look for a reason to be offended and complain out loud to everyone who is within the proximity. Get a grip, not all communities have the same beliefs, ideology or principles as you. The good thing for you is, no one is forcing you to be a part of those communities. And aiming the anger at a developer of an app that has nothing to do with user submitted content is completely misappropriated. AskZiggy's job as a developer is not censor the internet to your (and everyone else's liking) but to provide relevant answers to questions based on online databases. If people voted an answer that you dont like (usually to rally up people like you in a first place), sorry, but you will get that response, get offended, and cry rivers on the forums, while they are laughing. AskZiggy is not AI, nor does it have feelings. You type in a racist question in google, will likely get racist result. Internet is not designed to always make sure your feelings don't get hurt. Most people understand, deal with it, and move on. Clearly it's a concept way too foreign for you. So please, save yourself the stress and us your nagging, uninstall the app... AND MOVE ON.

If it said JFK and George bush should be taken out back and shot......you would be crying so shut your freaking mouth . You are the reason American is in the position its in. You and people like you worry about your 1%and say forget the rest if they can't find away to get a billion dollar bailout like my company.....then turn around and say i don't believe in welfare states............what ever suites u by the way i deleted the app and i can say what ever i feel on the internet ,which i think was the point your silly as was trying to make......know if only the app maker would remove abortion clinics so we can truly feel like we have what they have and iPhone.

By the way I can be apart of any community I choose to without being on the receiving end of hate.......you do know this is not the America of old where u can say racist thing in public and get away with it.....the internet is public or didn't you know.....just like the government and is still accountable for it's actions ....if only in the court of public opinion.........i don't go to some site on the internet ,I went to and app . If the app took you to a pic of a naked person because you asked what does the human body look like ,they would be shut down immediately .and you wouldn't be saying it's what they people voted for ............there's a reason apps have to gain approval you idiot.

xmarklive, your ramblings are amusing, yet you still have no point. "Supporting 1%, I'm reason for arrogance and position our country is in"? Where do you get all this even from and how is this relevant to anything in this discussion? This just shows how much of an argument you really have.
At a risk of sounding redundant, again, no one is forcing you to be a part of communities you don't want to be a part of. No one is forcing you to use software that you don't feel comfortable using. If this app is not what you are looking for, don't use it. In this case, neither author nor the app picks the answers to purposely offend you. So your anger is not only comical but also heavily misguided. Askziggy is a data aggregator that collects popular information by public on the internet when it comes to pop/media questions. 
Further more, when it comes to the internet and the data Askziggy gather, people have the right to say what they want to say, that's as basic as first ammendment for you. If moderators of those communities don't have an issue with what people say, and you do, perhaps you can join another community or even start your own. That's the beauty of the internet, no one is forcing you to play by somone else's rules. Just move on.
Second, no one, and I mean no one will guarantee people won't get offended on the internet. That's the risk you take by going online, which most people understand, but not you obviously. If you use google image search and turn on all your safety filters on and search for "fat sausage", chances are you may still be exposed to imagery that can be seen offensive. That's because no one can nor want to moderate the internet.
Third, even if the author wanted to filter results, how would he even be able to do that? Answers are polled from databases created by individual users. Besides the basic technical nightmare, everyone has own ideas and threshold of what's offensive to them. Does he just block specific words? or context? Think about it, YOU may be offended by a mere suggestion of racism even if it's a joke. Would that imply that any sentence that has words "black" and "water melon" should be banned in order not to offend someone like you?
I honestly think that if you are offended that easily, you should perhaps limit yourself to sites like disney.com and nickelodeon.com. Although even on those sites no one will guarantee that you won't see someone say something offensive. That's the internet, it's powered by communities and individuals who have own opinions that might not line up with yours.
Thinking about it, actually, I think it's not the app that is not for you, it's the INTERNET that is not for you perhaps. Continue using it at your own risk, but I promise you, you will be offended. A lot. So go on a keep getting mad, and smash your keys to post angry messages online. Hopefully it works out for you. But I'm done with you.
P.S. And finally to your argument about Bush or JFK... honestly I wouldn't give a damn if I saw a statement like you described. Because unlike you, I'm not an over-sensitive pansy in a quest to be offended anytime soneone mentions my race in a not so positive light on the internet. I know some people are a-holes, I accept, move on, and find like-minded communities/people of my own to be with. You should too.

And to AskZiggy developer,
You are doing a good job. But in order to shield yourself better from people like xmarklive, I'd suggest implementing a basic legal splash screen when someone installs and runs an app for the first time. Essentially telling them you as a developer are neither providing nor responsible for the content app gathers on the internet, and they (users) should proceed at their own risk. As they say "experience online may vary".
I know you didn't do it because you and I know most people understand this concept already. But I guess you have to explain it to the idiots out there as well, just in case.

Biggest improvement would be it detecting a sustained drop in volume to designate the end of a question instead of manually doing it.  Also it would be super cool if it had a local speech recognition engine to handle the word "Ziggy" to start questions.