Lots of phones have voice dialling; Vlingo gives you voice control – up to a point.
Setup is a little more complicated than most apps, because you have to assign one of the two ‘convenience’ keys to start Vlingo. This may make sense, considering Vlingo is a voice recognition app, but it’s more complicated than necessary because you set the key to ‘Nothing’ rather than picking Vlingo from the list yourself.
Then you test the voice recognition and wait for Vlingo to look at the names of all your contacts to help it recognise when you’re saying a name.
Oddly, the app doesn’t prompt you to choose which search engine you prefer (Yahoo is the default but you can switch to Google – or just say Google before a specific search) or what you want to do with notes you record (you can turn them into a memo, a task on your to do list, an email or a text message to yourself).
In the free version you can also update Facebook and Twitter, make calls (and pick whether you want the home, work or mobile number), open applications , and send text messages to other Vlingo users (or reply to incoming messages). To text anyone else or email people, you need the $17.99 Vlingo Plus version, and updating Facebook requires Facebook Mobile Texts, which only work on O2 in the UK so far.
Vlingo is the technology that powers voice recognition in Yahoo! oneSearch and it does a good job recognising speech. It’s not perfect (it got ‘Starbucks’ but not ‘menu’), so it gives you the option of correcting the text, and it does learn from your correction. Because even the latest BlackBerry isn’t powerful enough for speech recognition and it does the work on a server, you can’t use it when you’re not online.
Voice recognition makes more sense on a phone than a PC; it already has the microphone and we’re used to talking into our phones. But do you need it on a BlackBerry, which is known for having a great keyboard?
You can’t use it safely when you’re driving, unless you don’t look at the screen to make corrections. Unless you’re the world’s worst typist, Vlingo is most useful on a Storm. But the killer feature is being able to launch any application; now that you can easily install so many apps, remembering where they are is getting to be a problem, which Vlingo solves very neatly.
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Website/Demo: Vlingo website