21
Jun
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Last Updated: July 24th, 2011

The winners have been selected and contacted via email.

Enjoy your Vlingo licenses and look out for future AndroidPolice contests!

Living in Houston, you encounter some pretty horrendous traffic. Out of the 45 minutes I spend commuting(one way), about 20 are probably spent at a red light.

With all of that downtime it’s pretty tempting to reach over and check your latest email, or, if you’re like me, compulsively check the market for updates, but every time you do so, you’re risking injuring yourself, and those around you. We all know it’s dangerous to use the cell phone while driving, but how many of us actually heed those warnings?

2010-06-20 19h42_45

Luckily, I’ve found at least a partial solution to the problem. I’ve had a chance to play with a pretty spectacular voice recognition application this last week, Vlingo, and I can say without a doubt that I’ve used it in my car more than anywhere else. While it’s obviously preferable that people not tinker with their phones at all while on the road, Vlingo helps make things a bit safer by widening the scope of what voice recognition can do on the Android platform.

Vlingo’s been available for other mobile platforms for some time, and recently released their Android version in the Market for the fairly steep price of $9.99. The application has two main features: voice recognition, and a ‘safe reader’ feature that will read your email and text messages aloud.

Interface

After firing up Vlingo for the first time, you’re met with a fairly attractive, sparse interface that allows access to the two previously mentioned core features as well as some ‘Getting Started’ type tutorials and a few tweakable settings. Overall the application comes across as very well polished, and I haven’t had any issues with crashes or force closes on my Android 2.1 Nexus One.

mainmenu 1x1widget

They have also included 4 widgets for you to choose from, 3 of which are just different sizes for quick access to the voice recognition feature, and one that allows you to toggle ‘Safe Reader’ on and off. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in functionality between the 3 widget sizes, but I suppose it’s nice to have the choice.

In addition to the widget for quick access, you can also bind Vlingo the search button on your phone – simply hold down the button down for a few seconds, and you should be prompted to either use Android’s built in voice recognition or Vlingo’s, and you can set one as the default. I really like the ability to access the voice recognition no matter what you’re doing.

Features

One of Vlingo’s main selling points is how greatly it expands upon Google’s built in voice recognition capabilities. While Google’s built in voice recognition only allows for basic searching and text input, Vlingo opens that up and allows you to perform one of 7 actions:

  • Send a text message
  • Send an email
  • Voice dial
  • Search
  • Open Apps
  • Maps
  • Post to Twitter

You may have noticed that there’s a bit of overlap between the features Vlingo provides, and those available in stock Android 2.0+ installations – why pay $10 for an app when I can already do voice search, and input text into text messages?

whatcanisay whatcanisaydetail 

Vlingo proves its value when you realize that when they say you can use the app to send a text message, they really mean you can send a text message using only the application. Unlike Android’s stock voice recognition, where you’d normally have to open the messaging app, then find your message thread, select the text field, and then use the voice recognition, with Vlingo you can simply say “Text bob message I’ll be running late tonight” and it will take care of the rest for you.

settings snapshot

So, the ideas behind the features are solid…but how well do they work?

Voice Recognition

I’m happy to report that I’ve had mostly positive experiences with the voice recognition aspect of Vlingo…with a few caveats.

For the most part, it works as described in the above screenshot, but I’ve run in to a few minor snags with it recognizing names, though I can’t entirely fault Vlingo for that. If you take a look at who wrote this post, you’ll see that my last name is Dehghanpoor (pronounced day-gun-poor). It’s a fairly unique name, and most humans don’t even pronounce it properly, so I’m not exactly expecting a cell phone application to nail it every time either – but it did have issues when I attempted to send test messages to my siblings.

They do mention that recognition will improve over time, however, so hopefully it will eventually figure out what I mean and complete the action 100%. When it’s not certain whose name you’re pronouncing when attempting to dial, text, or email it will show you a list of your contacts. Tapping the contacts name will then go to the desired application with the input field filled with your spoken text.

Most other actions performed as expected, with a few exceptions – text wasn’t always 100% accurate, but it was close enough. Usually, if corrections were required they were quick and easy. I also had a few issues trying to use the ‘Open application’ command – I’d say 7/10 times it’d perform a search for the terms ‘Open application’ rather than what I intended to do, so that was fairly frustrating. I’m not sure if Vlingo actually uses Google’s voice recognition backend, but you definitely do need network data access for the app to work, so don’t expect to use it in airplane mode.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve primarily used the application in my car, and it seems to block out music when at a low to medium volume fairly well, though I suspect that may have more to do with the noise cancelling mics on the Nexus One than the application itself. I wouldn’t recommend using it with the windows down, but it should work well enough with some minor background noise.

If you need to shoot a quick text or email off in the car, and would rather not risk typing it out by hand, you should be able to do so fairly effortlessly with Vlingo.

Safe Reader

Not a ton to say about this feature other than it works pretty well at doing what it’s intended to – read your emails and texts aloud. When activated, it will read all incoming texts and emails in a fairly clear, but obviously robotic voice. It performs about as well as I expected it to considering it’s text to speech software on a mobile phone.

Overall a useful, but not quite mind blowing feature.

Conclusion

While I overall liked Vlingo, I have a hard time thinking of uses for it when I’m not in the car – this may be personal preference, but I can’t imagine speaking commands to my phone in public and keeping my dignity at the same time. Not to mention if you use it to speak a text message, it’d obviously be heard by anyone around you.

It may also be helpful for them to include a timer for the ‘Safe Reader’ feature, so that it automatically deactivates after a set amount of time – it may be a bit embarrassing if your phone starts reading a personal text message or email to the entire room.

The actual voice recognition performed about as well as Google’s – remember, the big draw of this application are the expanded voice command capabilities, and not necessarily the voice recognition itself. So that said, I still have issues with it understanding some of the more complicated last names in my address books, and it does occasional mishear a few words in some of the text and emails I’ve sent, but that’s to be expected.

Then there’s the price point, $9.99. For an Android application, this is fairly steep, and for me, I don’t think I was able to get enough use out of the application to justify the price. Ideally, I’d like to see it priced at $3.99-5.00, but I’m not sure how likely that is to happen.

Pros

  • Expanded voice command capabilities
  • Great for commuters
  • Mostly accurate
  • Decent OS integration

Cons

  • Trouble interpreting complicated names (I’m willing to give it a pass on this one – my last name is especially unreasonable)
  • Often performs searches rather than actually opening applications when using the ‘Open application’ command
  • Requires a network connection
  • Pretty steep price

Giveaway!

2010-06-20 19h42_45

Now the good news - we have 25 Vlingo licenses to give away ($10 value each) to our readers.

In order to get yours, complete ALL of the following steps:

  1. Make sure you follow us (@AndroidPolice) on twitter. Optionally, you can also follow @Vlingo.
  2. Post the following tweet:

    Reading Vlingo app review by @AndroidPolice http://bit.ly/cB1NMj - 25 free licenses are up for grabs #vlingogiveaway #Android
  3. Post a comment here suggesting a feature Vlingo should work on next, no matter how crazy or unbelievable. What would Vlingo be able to accomplish in the ideal world?
    Don't forget to Include the url to your twitter account or tweet in your comment here, either in the Website field or as part of the comment body, so that we can match the tweets to the comments.

The most original 25 suggestions will get a free Vlingo license.

Contest starts immediately and runs until Thursday, June 24th, 11:59PM PST.

Winners will be posted here and notified by twitter or email.

Good luck, everyone!

Chris Dehghanpoor
Chris is an Android devotee based out of Houston, TX. He enjoys indie rock, general geekery and long walks on the beach. If you can't find him online, he's probably playing Plants VS Zombies.
  • http://forums.swdroid.com/ Shaydlife

    Vlingo should add the ability to block calls by just saying it. It would be nice to see a call that you don't want to answer and be able to just say, "Block Call", and have it sent straight to voicemail.

    http://twitter.com/Shaydlife

  • http://www.twitter.com/xxtwiztidyoshix XxTwiztidYoshixX

    If it doesn't already it should integrate total control over the market

  • hackmeister

    Add integration with an IRC client such as AndChat. It would almost function like a screenreader for the blind. It would make irc use safe while driving

  • MrViZZiATO

    I think it should have a feature where you'll see a notification up top and you select it to do what you wish so that when your in public it just doesn't read stuff out loud!! Or better yet vibrate your phone and you can set a timer for however many sec's before it'll read it, so that way you can decide to let it read out loud or not. I can't imagine my GF sending me a dirty text and it reading it out loud or better yet when I'm at work LMAOO!!

    http://twitter.com/mrvizziato

  • http://twitter.com/thecolor thecolor

    well, the one suggestion I can think of is to add (if not already added) a bi-directional corrective speak option.

    While I totally agree with the hands free functionality for safety, if you have to grab the device to correct things, then the purpose is defeated.

    However, if the device spoke something to the effect of: "Did you mean..." and you could speak back "yes" or "spell" and do just that, then I'd find it VERY useful. Not to mention, if "spell" is a verbal function, it could add to the accuracy of missed words like, Dehghanpoor (pronounced day-gun-poor) :)

  • Ike Plemons

    Real Time Language Translation. I guess that is one of the Holy Grails, but it would be awesome.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      This was demoed at Google I/O and will be part of Froyo/Gingerbread.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreyrr Jeffrey

    I would be awesome if they added an auto root option where you only have to tell vlingo: "root now", it then downloads packages based on your phone and autopwns! :D

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah... in diiiiistant future ;-]

  • http://www.twitter.com/RazrBladeKiss RazrBladeKiss

    I am not sure if it does this already, but perhaps if you were to speak in a location or address to something it could speak back the directions to said place like one of those gps devices

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Would launching the Nav app be essentially what you'd want? I think it can currently do a search and start the Maps app but it'd be cool if it could fire up the Nav app directly.

  • Evo_Frankie13

    "Post a comment here suggesting a feature Vlingo should work on next, no matter how CRAZY OR UNBELIEVABLE."
    Ok i know this has nothing to do with this app but it would be awesome if this were possible. Vlingo should be able to use the front facing camera on the HTC Evo to control the entire phone with hand gestures. Example: Scrolling through The Android Market or even a web page by moving your hand up and down to scroll through the page. This would be perfect to use with the phone in landscape mode laying back on the kickstand.

    http://twitter.com/themanknowsbest

  • http://twitter.com/BrentYager Brent Yager

    It would be great if Vlingo could string together multiple tasks! "Call Mom THEN call Brother"

  • chris

    not sure if it has it but voice prompts would be cool, like it tells you if you have mail and how many, or a text message and from who.

  • http://twitter.com/chanrandi Randy Chan

    The app should actively listen for user inputs while receiving and on a call. When the user receives a call, the app will announce the name of the caller and lets the user say "Answer" or "Hang Up" without pressing any buttons. This further enhances the safety of the user because they don't have to look down to answer the call while driving.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      +1 for this one.

    • MikrZ

      That is a great idea. +1

  • Thiago

    I think will be better if Vligon could understand others languages.

    http://twitter.com/Eu_mesmoT/status/16718046920

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      That would indeed be cool. My guess is it's dependent on the Google's speech-to-text recognition engine but I bet it will be supported as it evolves.

  • http://twitter.com/sumyunguy sumyunguy

    Automatic computation of speed based by gps activity and automatically start services such as text/email reading...THEN automajically respond with an appropriate canned response saved by the user e.g. "I am in the car right now and can't respond to your message I will get back to you when I am out of the car!" or whatever!

  • huchteman

    add further OS integration to modify phone settings in car via voice commands, such as "enable wi-fi hotspot" or "turn on bluetooth"...

  • http://www.ipvfletch.net Kevin Fletcher

    I think Vlingo should look at making hotkeys for certain functions, like if you want to BOLD something or if you want to upcase or downcase or add a comma or period. People don't talk naturally and say "comma" but if you could press a button while talking and sneak in a comma or period or upcase, or what have you, it would really revolutionize text input and make a new hybrid text/touch type of input model. I could think of a million uses for this like addresses or better, ip addresses!! xD

    http://twitter.com/SSL_VPN

    Thanks!

  • http://www.cocchiararo.com.ar Roberto

    A nice feature/s would be to be able to:

    - twit from vlingo
    - facebook wall message from vlingo
    - foursquare checkin from vlingo

  • http://www.ChrisRuska.com Chris Ruska

    Enable Vlingo to integrate with Ford/Microsoft Sync system to allow full control of the phone via bluetooth in your car.

  • http://www.twitter.com/herooftimeloz Kunal

    Support for more languages would be awesome. btw, the tweet we're supposed to post exceeds the 140 character limit.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Not really... I count 126 characters.

  • jmc

    Be able to give a status update( missed calls, email, text messages, tweets, etc) while phone is in sleep mode and enabled by simply saying "vlingo status".

    • KB

      It can already do that (status updates on twitter and facebook) on the Blackberry platform and opens just about any native app and 3rd party app. I don't see why you couldn't do that on Android. Also, you just say "period" and it puts the punctuation in. I see some good ideas here though. I'm sure they're working on integrating some of these ideas already.

  • http://Www.twitter.com/htc_android_lm Luis de la cruz

    I think besides just opening apps it should also be able to open music m songs....for example if one says "play song telephone" or "play songs by shakira" it should go straight to playing the song and it should be able to open it in ANY music player...I'd love that

  • MikrZ

    Mass Audio Messaging. It would be great to send an audio message to a group of people without recording the audio, selecting who to send it to, and then sending it with a messaging app. It could either be an audio recording or a pre-recorded message that gets sent when a person answers the phone. You could select individuals or a contact group.

    Record Mass Audio Message "Michael left the office early. Let's leave." Send to "Jim mobile", "Pam mobile", "Dwight mobile". (Or Send to Contact Group "Office Buddies."

  • http://twitter.com/ngirdhar I like Vlingo. Hope it’ll rock soooooooooon!!!

    I like Vlingo. Hope it'll rock soooooooooon!!!
    http://twitter.com/ngirdhar

  • Brady

    How about being able to use camera key while in other apps to be able to switch apps or take a quick voice note. Then go right back to apparently u have open

  • Xcom923

    If vlingo could activate with a simple voice command that would be awsome, that way all we'd have to do is say "phone! send text message" or something like that

    http://twitter.com/xcom923

  • http://www.twitter.com/microwin Alwin Aguirre

    I would love to see a function where Vlingo can read the message back to me after I created it to ensure accuracy instead of having to read it myself. Then to be able to command "send" after confirming everything is accurate. Having to glance on the phone screen and fiddle with it while driving defeats the purpose.

  • http://twitter.com/VeRtAg0 VeRtAg0

    The ability to turn on/off Phone Features. Example: "Turn on GPS", "Turn on Bluetooth", "Turn off WiFi" etc etc, you get the idea

  • http://Twitter.com/sethwdaniel Seth daniel

    It would be cool if vlingo could fully integrate with bluetooth hands free headsets and car bluetooth systems so when it is connected to the designated bluetooth devices it automatically turns on certain features, like listen for designated key word commands when on bluetooth headset and turn on safe reader and listen for commands when paired with car bluetooth.

    Twitter.com/sethwdaniel

  • http://twitter.com/wademealing Wade Mealing

    What i'd like to see is it have it read out the person who is calling you and act on it.

    Actions such as.

    Answer on speaker,
    Send to message bank
    Erase call log
    Send sms to person saying I am .....
    Ssssh !

    Also, allow a default third party input application, pass the rest over to vlingo.

    http://twitter.com/wademealing

  • Sean Buchan

    I would love it if Vlingo would record my 'Why Android is superior to iOS' speech and automatically recite it when it senses a pompous iPhone user nearby... a laser defense system against Steve Jobs would be great as well.
    http://twitter.com/SBuchanDPT

  • http://elitecore.com Dhaval Yoganandi

    I love vlingo since I was using it on an symbian OS. They should work on the feature that some basic commands recognition should not need an internet connection.

    My twitter ID is : fabler85

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Hm, you're right - it doesn't work w/o Internet. Definitely a good suggestion.

  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    Thanks for all your entries, guys! The winners will be notified shortly. Stay put.

  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    The winners have been selected and contacted via email.

    Enjoy your Vlingo licenses and look out for future AndroidPolice contests!

  • http://www.cypher-sec.org thecolor

    thanks for the win. the program refuses to activate though. :(
    I entered the code on the site, seemed to accept it, but the program refuses to see that I've registered the vip key. :(
    not seeing any support on vlingo for that problem yet. :(

    • http://twitter.com/sumyunguy Sumyunguy

      I am having the same problem. I sent them an email. No response yet. Wondering if it has anything to do with running froyo.

      • http://www.cypher-sec.org thecolor

        I'm not running froyo yet. fresh evo 0.3

      • Xcom923

        I'm not running Froyo either. Besides it's a web validation problem. I think the codes we got haven't been registered with them properly yet.

        • http://www.cypher-sec.org thecolor

          why does that seem so mail-in-rebate old school?

      • http://twitter.com/sumyunguy Sumyunguy
        • Xcom923

          I'm aware of that, BUT the rest of us are not using 2.2 and we are still having problems. How do you explain that??

        • http://twitter.com/sumyunguy Sumyunguy

          NO. XCOM i think you are correct.

          Obviously the app requires an internet connection to validate the code. The app has to "Call home" to verify the code we input. We can see it call home, but the servers on their end are not allowing the validation. The codes are just not through their system yet...

  • http://www.twitter.com/Themanknowsbest Evo_Frankie13

    OK im having that exact same problem. i downloaded the app from the link provided in the email. Then i copied the license number and pasted it into the space provided, and it says its activated and that i can exit out of the browser. So i go back and relaunch Vlingo, but it says that it has not been activated, so i then try and to it all over again and it says it doesn't recognize it. i have an Evo runing frsh 0.3

  • http://twitter.com/thecolor thecolor

    any word from Vlingo on the inability to register the software? All I got was an auto reply yesterday saying the ticket was accepted... yet still no fix.

    • http://www.twitter.com/Themanknowsbest Evo_Frankie13

      Yea i sent an email to them yesterday. And they said
      " Congrats on the win! Sorry about the issues you're having -- at this point we've contacted Vlingo to see if they can give us some help, but as it's the weekend, we may not get an answer until tomorrow. We'll update you as soon as we hear something back.

      Thanks for reading!

      Warmest regards,

      Chris
      ----------------------------
      Chris Dehghanpoor
      Chief Editor, androidpolice.com"
      So yea i hope they get all this worked out soon.

    • Sumyumguy

      i emailed vlingo directly yesterday and received a new code via email.

    • Xcom923

      I got a new code too

  • http://twitter.com/thecolor thecolor

    ditto. seems like the new codes are working. :) Yeah for a fully functional program! Let crazy mad testing commence! :)

    thanks for the opportunity to win A.P.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Themanknowsbest Evo_Frankie13

    I have not received a new code or any feedback from them so i just emailed them again to see what was up. Ill just have to wait and see what happens. Any body else not received a new code or still having problems?

  • Seth daniel

    I got one of these licenses and used it for the past couple days and its a quite useful application but if the contact has multiple numbers it asks you which number so you still have to touch the phone. It should allow you to say mobile or just default to the mobile number for texts.

    Also on my hero when this was installed the phone turned itself off When it sat idle for anytime. Probably just a bug in the early build or some incompatibility with damageless and fresh roms.

    • http://twitter.com/thecolor thecolor

      the multiple contacts rolled into one is really my big deal right now also. I can't text or message or email or call without manually selecting one of the numbers. Thought I could say, "mobile" or the like in the sentence, but no dice so far. :(

      • Seth Daniel

        yea, that's quite annoying, the whole point is that it allows you to use the phone hands free, but if you have multiple numbers, which I do for just about every contact I care about, you still have to touch and look at the phone to do anything.

        and I figured out it wasn't vlingo that made my phone randomly turn off, I still don't know what it was, but sprint sent me a new phone. So sorry for blaming vlingo, it appears it was not at fault after all.

        • http://www.cypher-sec.org thecolor

          I just realized, if you change auto dial to "Always" instead of "when confident" that works better. In fact I've had so few errors I've only had to cancel an "Always" dial once as opposed to having to select the number "when confident" all the time. Hope that helps.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I'm pretty sure the new SuperDialer version fixes this.

  • http://twitter.com/sumyunguy sumyunguy

    ***FYI - For those of you that won a FREE code for VLINGO.***

    If you uninstall and re-download from the site you received from vlingo site you get the new SuperDIaler portion of the app. Just finished installing. No need to re-input the code.

    • http://www.cypher-sec.org thecolor

      nice tip! thanks

      • http://www.cypher-sec.org thecolor

        noticing you just have to go back to the url in your email, download and install... no need to uninstall. It just overwrites the last.

        • http://twitter.com/sumyunguy sumyunguy

          Oh Cool!

          Vlingo told me to uninstall. I just made sure not to delete user info.

          I am just glad they didn't say "sorry"!

          :)

  • Big Al

    "price point, $9.99" ...."is fairly steep" ... "like to see it priced at $3.99-5.00"

    Good stuff at 10 bucks.

    Dudes, please. Think for a moment on what we throw around on expense.

    This is a capital investment. Hold the cheese and spend 4 more dollars on something that is not ethereal, but static for a spell. 10 bucks. Good product.

    We've been spoiled. It is our forefather's fault.

    • Seth

      It's also free now that Google came out with their voice actions in their voice search, Vlingo brought their price down...to free!