One day we will be able to simply think about what we want our Android phones to do, and our phones will do it. Vlingo for Android brings us a little closer to that goal by providing full voice controls for the Android system for 2.0+ users. Though the newer Android versions offer stock voice search and text input, Vlingo takes it one step further by allowing users to launch applications, update their twitter status, and call, email, or text anyone in your contact list. In addition, Vlingo Safe Reader will read incoming text messages and emails to you so that you don’t have to fumble around with your phone while on the go.
Where Vlingo really shines is in the homescreen widget. Users can put the widget on their homescreen, touch the tap and speak button, and command your android phone to do as you please. The commands themselves are basic and intuitive, and include all of the following commands (the action/command items are in italics).
- Text Message: Text Katie Message Are you free tonight for dinner?
- Email: Email Han Subject Tonight Message Running a bit late.
- Voice Dial: Call Charlie mobile
- Search: Search Bonobo Apes
- Open Apps: Open Alarm clock
- Maps: Find coffee shops in Cambridge
- Twitter: Twitter really need a coffee right now
Overall, Vlingo handles these commands fairly well with a few exceptions. My wife has a unique name. At first, when I tried to use the command “email Jenica subject test message hello,” it just would not find my wife’s contact information. Vlingo promises to get better as time goes on, so I tried this again today and it successfully found her this time around.
Launching applications was the only other real hit or miss for me. Sure it launched all of the stock apps without a hitch, but when I tried to launch a soundboard to taunt my co-worker, it crapped out and did a google search for the soundboard. The main improvement I’d like to see in Vlingo is this tighter integration with 3rd party apps. The ability to use your voice to launch applications is where Vlingo really sets itself apart and I think it will be a must have application once this feature is improved.
Vlingo currently is available on the Android market for devices running Android 2.0 or higher, but it’s a fairly expensive app that will set you back $9.99, and even that seems to be a discount. The press release (dated May 25, 2010) states that the $9.99 price is for a limited time only, so expect this number to increase in coming weeks.
Once the integration with 3rd party applications is a little better, I do think that Vlingo could justify the high price, but I also fear that this will become part of the stock Android system in future releases and it will become a “wasted purchase.” I’d like to see a dumbed down free version of the application, or at least a 14 day free trial so users can try before they buy. Vlingo themselves offer a free lite version of their application for Blackberry, but no word on whether this will also come to Android.
- Full voice control over your Android device. Vast improvement over the stock voice text/search app in 2.0+ Android versions.
- Voice controls are simple/easy to understand, and are intuitive.
- Convenient widget
- Ability to launch 3rd party applications could use some improvements.
- Comes with a hefty $10 pricetag with the promise of an increased price if you aren’t an early Vlingo adopter.
Final Verdict: Before buying Vlingo, I strongly encourage you to weigh the pros and cons of making the $10 plunge. This app has the potential to be worth the $10 price, but I can easily see these features being incorporated into future Android releases.
For more information on Vlingo for Android, check out the following video, or head over to the Vlingo website.
And now for some great news: we were given 20 VIP codes for free access to the Vlingo application. As usual, we’re passing these codes onto 20 lucky Android and Me readers. Want to enter the giveaway? Leave a comment with your email address (in the email field) below before 8pm Central Time on Sunday, 6/20/2010. We will randomly select 20 of you to receive Vlingo for absolutely free. Sometime on Sunday 6/20 or Monday 6/21, winners will receive an email with instructions on how to redeem the VIP code.