vlingo, a multipurpose Voice Recognition app for the iPhone, didn’t receive nearly the same amount of fanfare compared to Google’s own Mobile Voice app as both were released around the same time. While this maybe the case, vlingo is certainly no push over in the field of speech recognition. Already a very popular and useful app for the Blackberry, vlingo is like a Swiss Army knife for the iPhone. Not only does it search through your contact list to call via voice command, it also searches Google or Yahoo for queries, look up and map local listings and even updates your status on Facebook and Twitter.
vlingo is essential divided up into 5 tabs: Home, Maps, Search, Phone and Social. If you are on the home tab, you must say specifically what it is you want searched. For example,
- Call Benito at mobile
- Web Search the Man of Steel
- Find Blockbuster in New York
- Facebook upate… is tired from 10 seconds of hot diggity action in the sack
If you are in the other category tabs though, you don’t need to specify what it is you want done. In this case, just say what you need searched, corresponding to the tab. To activate listening mode, vlingo gives you two options. You can tap the “Press + Speak”, then tap it again when done speaking. Or, press and hold down the same button, releasing it when you are done.
So how does vlingo’s voice recognition perform? Surprisingly well actually. While it does require a data connection for it to work, you don’t really feel it as the results for what you say are returned within a second or two. The 1 to 2 seconds feels light years faster than the 5 -7 seconds I had to wait before a contact showed up in another voice app, Say Who. Even on the Edge network, vlingo was faster to retrieve results than Say Who on Wifi or 3G. Now that’s impressive! On top of this, I found vlingo’s results to be on par and at times even more accurate than that of Google’s app. Words that couldn’t be recognized by Google Mobile are now returned by vlingo.
Being able to search both Yahoo and Google search engines is a nice touch. Whatever you could search with Google Mobile App via voice, you can do the same with vlingo. The one handy thing missing though is that vlingo does not automatically include search results based on your current location. So if you needed to search for a a pizza place near your house, you would have to say “pizza in city“. The Facebook and Twitter status update feature can be a huge bonus for those who update theirs daily. I tried using it for my facebook account and it worked as advertised.
While vlingo’s performance in the voice recognition department is great (especially compared to other offerings at the App Store), there are improvements that could be made. A built in web browser would be a nice start. Currently, clicking on any link of a Yahoo or Google results page will open up Safari. This would mean closing Safari, openging up vlingo again should you have more searches to do via voice. I also found the auto dial feature to be rather messy. A contact won’t always auto dial even if you have this feature turned on. Finally, the Blackberry version of vlingo has way more features than that of the iPhone. For example, send and reply to emails and text messages, send a note to self and the ability to launch apps within the phone. Bringing these features to the iPhone would be icing on the cake for an already impressive Voice Recognition app.
For the price of Free there is no reason why this app shouldn’t be on your iPhone, especially if using your voice to search for data is right up your alley.