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(Pocket-lint) - Sherpa, the personal assistant app for Android that rivals Apple's Siri, is now available in the UK, launching first in beta. 

We sat down with Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria, founder and CEO of Sherpa, to explore what's on offer from the app, which he describes as an "interface to digital life".

Uribe-Etxebarria's background is in language processing, which underpins everything Sherpa offers. When talking to your smartphone, Sherpa will interpret what you're saying and return useful results, rather than just giving you a return of links.

Not only is the app plugged into much of what your phone will do - so you can dictate an SMS, or have it read your messages to you - but you can also speak calendar additions and ask it to navigate you to your next appointment or simply ask it questions about the weather, sports or flights.

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Effectively, Sherpa looks to replace much of what you might do through some of the native Google offerings, such as Google Now, so you can simply ask the phone for the information you want.

Natural language comes into play because Sherpa, from the demonstration that Uribe-Etxebarria gave us, is good at figuring out exactly what you want. Even though Uribe-Etxebarria's English is tinged with his native Spanish accent, Sherpa has no trouble in interpreting what's being said.

One aspect that's useful is the ability to pull out information through cards. Ask about a person, or a place, and you'll get the information nicely returned. You can also mix and match voice commands and text - for example, if there's a word you can't pronounce.

Sherpa also gives you access to information you've just asked for, so you can scroll down, which means you get more control than you do from something like Apple's Siri, which tends to hide behind the top layer of what it thinks you want.

You'll also be able to dictate updates for social networks or ask Sherpa to show you things like your mentions on Twitter.

In addition, Sherpa gives you transaction access through PayPal, so you'll be able to use the app to make payments.

Best of all, the Sherpa app is free on Google Play, so you can download and play with it yourself from today.

Writing by Chris Hall.
Sections Apps