iPhone app review: Vlingo

In a sea of 10,000 iPhone apps available for download in the App Store, a few truly stand out above the rest. My goal in this review is to find out if Vlingo, released last week, is one of those star performers.

Vlingo is a voice-activation service that not only enables the user to voice dial when making phone calls, but also to speak desired locations as well as facebook and twitter updates. Such voice-activation technology has been available for the iPhone prior to Vlingo’s release but was primarily used just for voice dial. The ability to have the phone dictate full 140-character sentences for you is a brand new concept.

So now we can Twitter or do Facebook while we’re driving. Does it live up to the hype? Is it worth the download? Let’s go in-depth to find out.

Types of Vlingo Voice Commands

Voice Dial. “Call Bob at home” or “Call Gina at mobile” are such examples if you are on the home tab. In the phone tab specifically, simply say “Bob home” or “Gina mobile”. This works great with your contacts; however, I attempted to say digits of a phone number and it couldn’t understand what I was dialing — I hope this will be remedied in an update.

Maps. Essentially this is the same process as the google maps app that comes on the iPhone already, but it gives you the ability to speak what you’re looking for, instead of having to type it out. This certainly can come in more handy when you are driving and need to find a certain place in a hurry.

Web. Want to do a google or yahoo search? From the home tab speak “web search” and then what you’d like to look up, or do it directly from the search tab. You can specify which search engine you’d rather use in the settings.

Social. This applies to both Facebook and Twitter updates. For example, I say “Twitter I am testing out vlingo for my review period” and this is what appears:

Then I simply hit the update status button and Vlingo does all the work for me. There are many times I’m not in front of a computer and am too lazy to type a Twitter update on my iPhone, so I prefer to use Vlingo instead.

Vlingo works a lot better than many of the paid apps in the App Store, and it’s offered for free. It’s not 100% accurate when picking up your voice, but it’s pretty darn close. And if it doesn’t pick up everything completely right, it’s easy enough to tap the “press+speak” button and redo it.

One really nice thing is knowing the technology is there to expand out to other features and services. If Vlingo can let you do Facebook and Twitter updates, what’s to stop them from adding other social media sites? Why not let me write full blog posts with the power of my voice? I’m excited at all the possibilities out there, and I’m keeping Vlingo on the front page of my iPhone for now.

Author: Brad Molen

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