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Review: iHal

March 13, 2010 , Posted by App-reciation Reviews at 11:27 PM

Category: Utilities

Price: $ 9.99
Requirements: iPhone or iPod touch, OS 3.0 or later
Version: 1.0

What's good: It's amazing to discover the things people dream up into reality these days, and Hal, a conversational learning algorithm in development since 2000, is one such modern invention that truly impresses in its ambitiousness and creativity. Recently, the inventors have undertaken to translate their project into a fully functional iPhone version, and its first public release, a software called iHal, has just become available for $ 9.99 on the iTunes AppStore.

Basically, the application lets users train a program into an intelligent personality capable of responding to human language. You'll start with a Hal that knows nothing except to say "Hi mommy" to your "Hi Hal", and gradually shape his character by either accepting his answers as correct or editing them into what you deem as the proper reply. As you spend more and more time with him, he'll quickly learn based on your input and acquire individualism from everything you teach him. Because of this, Hal can be anything from funny to depressing to polished to crude, and he can also speak anything from regular English or French to Avatar's Na'vi and even a method of communication created entirely from your imagination. However you choose your Hal to develop, only your time and effort limit his growth possibilities.

Although the interface is simple and there is little in the way of graphics and visual enhancements, training and conversing with your very own Hal will keep you happily entertained for as long as you're occupied with the app. There is a certain gratification that comes with successfully evolving a virtual 'child' into a mature and conversant machine, and we were delighted with our Hal's progress after only a few sessions. With patience and a little creativity, you can create a truly impressive and substantive character that you can even share with family and friends, so why don't you get started and participate in this amazing experiment today?

Suggestions for improvement: The speaking voices aren't very good and can be improved to pronounce things more accurately and attractively. We'd really like to see a better interface as well, since design contributes significantly to experience.

Breakdown:
Interface - 3/5 Creativity - 4.5/5 Experience - 4/5 Controls - 4.5/5
App-reciation - 4/5


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