You Gotta Try Vlingo! App Proves Speaking Is Faster than Typing
When driving down the freeway are you tempted to peek at your messages? For safety's sake resist that temptation—you should always wait until you are safely out of the car. But what if you could have your messages read out loud to you? The SafeReader feature in the Vlingo app for BlackBerry® smartphones will read out loud incoming messages—letting you keep your eyes on the road.
But Vlingo does more than read emails, this is a full-featured voice-command system for your BlackBerry® smartphone. We have been putting Vlingo through its paces and love the results.
Note: Always be very careful when talking on the phone while driving; and never send or read messages while driving. And obey all laws prohibiting or restricting mobile phone use and/or texting while driving.
The app's concept is pretty simple: voice-based tools for your BlackBerry smartphone. The aforementioned SafeReader, for example, reads new messages out loud as they come in. Voice recognition lets you enter text faster than typing. And voice commands let you open other apps, send texts and emails, chat via BlackBerry® Messenger, update Facebook® and Twitter®, and more.
How it works
To make Vlingo work you hold down the side key down and speak your command. Release the side button when done. Vlingo listens to what you say, and then does what you ask.
What can you say?
Here are some examples of what you can say.
|Send a text message||
|Chat with BlackBerry® Messenger||
|Update Facebook and Twitter status (requires these apps)||
|Send an email (Vlingo Plus only)||
|Send a note to yourself by text or email, or add as a memo or task||
Faster than typing
Vlingo claims that a study shows that people can complete tasks 2.5% faster by talking than by typing. After using the app for a few weeks we believe it—but only if voice recognition accuracy is high. (See next.)
Vlingo features currently unique to BlackBerry smartphones
- Integration with Bluetooth® headsets and car kits
- SafeReader for reading messages out loud
- Vlingo Everywhere (Use voice to add text almost anywhere you type in your BlackBerry smartphone)
What about accuracy?
With voice recognition software always comes an inherent question: how accurately does it translate my voice into words or commands? Vlingo scores fairly well in this category, although it takes some time to fully adapt to your voice.
Unlike many other voice recognition programs, Vlingo does not include a voice-training course to help build accuracy. It does, however, automatically adapt to your voice, cadence, and accent. And it learns as you correct its mistakes.
For example, pretend you say, “Facebook status is out with friends” and Vlingo types, “Facebook status is out with Frieda.” When you correct the error Vlingo will automatically learn the difference and use that information to do better next time.
The Vlingo team tells us that the app also learns from what other users say to help improve accuracy for everyone. It even accounts for regional differences.
The bottom line: We rate accuracy only fair in the beginning. Correcting mistakes took time, but we noticed rapid improvement as we used the app. After two weeks we now rate accuracy as excellent.
Table: Vlingo free vs. paid
|Free||$19.99 one-time fee
|SafeReader to read messages|
|Search the web|
|Make phone calls|
|Update Facebook and Twitter status|
|Create notes to self|
|Open most downloaded and native apps|
|Send texts to contacts who have Vlingo|
|Send texts to any contacts|
|Send, reply, and forward emails to any contacts|
|Vlingo Everywhere: Use voice to add text almost anywhere you type|
Five ways to use Vlingo
- You are running late to pick up your teenage son from soccer practice. While walking to your car, just press the side key and tell Vlingo, “Text Joe I am running late. I will be in front of your school in 8 minutes.”
- Should you bring your umbrella? Grab your BlackBerry smartphone and say, “Weather in [your town].”
- Headed to work in the morning? Turn on SafeReader when getting into your car by simply hitting the side button and saying “SafeReader On.” Vlingo will read your email and text messages aloud so you can keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.
- Need to settle a bet? Just ask Vlingo, “Search Google how many championships have Chicago Blackhawks won?”
- Social networking works great with Vlingo. Update your Facebook by saying, “Facebook update taking a walk through Central Park. Beautiful day!”