Earlier this week, the world first got to check out Hound, the hugely ambitious voice-based search service from the minds behind SoundHound. Demonstrations sure suggested that Hound could be a force to be reckoned with, easily parsing even very complicated queries full of contextual references, but is it as really as good as the official demos made it out to be? It’s still tricky to get some time playing around with Hound – the app remains an invite-only Android affair – but a just-published video hands-on suggests this really might be as good as it looks, with the service answering the most convoluted questions users can throw at it.
Far more than Siri or Google Now, Hound shines at its ability to figure out just what users are asking – and correspondingly, return the appropriate information. While those other players may do alright with direct, single questions, and even limited contextual cues, Hound can handle a rambling, condition-laden string of multiple questions and return all its answers in a heartbeat. You might ask it “Where’s Stanford and how many students are enrolled and what are my flight options out there for the next Tuesday after a holiday weekend?” and and Hound would fire right back with all that info.
This hands-on confirms that some aspects of the service are still a little rough around the edges, and the app clearly needs to be fleshed-out a bit, but what works appears to be working fantastically well. With nine years of R&D behind it, that shouldn’t be too surprising.
For now Hound is still an invite-only beta. An iOS version is in the works, but we haven’t heard an ETA. If you’re interested in learning more, you can sign up to participate in the testing.