Apple’s smartphones have Siri. Most Android phones have Google Assistant. And Samsung phones have Bixby. Voice assistant software has become an increasingly common feature for modern smartphones.
But what about Linux phones? While none of the GNU/Linux distributions available for smartphones like the PinePhone or Librem 5 have a voice assistant baked in, these are basically pocket-sized Linux computers. So of course you can install one – and redditor /u/SkippyTheMgnfcnt shows what happens when you get the open source Mycroft up and running on a PinePhone.
Mycroft is voice assistant software that’s designed to do many of the things that Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant can do. It can answer questions, set reminders, and work with third-party add-ons called “skills.” Speech-to-text technology lets you interact with Mycroft by voice, and it supports wake word detection, allowing you to say a phrase to activate the software.
But unlike most other voice assistant software, Mycroft is open source and it’s designed to be private by default. Your voice data won’t be recorded unless you explicitly opt in (which you might want to do to help improve accuracy). Advanced users could also set up Mycroft to run on a self-hosted server or even to work entirely offline.
You’re probably not going to want to use that last option if you’re running Mycroft on a phone. since it would take up a lot of resources. There is an option to run just the voice detection software locally, but SkippyTheMgnfcnt notes that it takes about 8 hours to build that functionality on a PinePhone running the Mobian operating systems, so… yeah, probably not a great idea.
That said, setting up just the basic Mycroft service on a phone will take about an hour to complete, so patience is key. If you want to try installing Mycroft on your PinePhyone can find instructions at reddit.