Vlingo Android app a solid “secretary”

by Caitlin M. Foyt

Vlingo is a words-to-action app for your Android that allows you to compose text messages and emails, update social networking statuses, conduct web searches, and make phone calls – all using voice command.

Tap the home screen widget and tell the phone what task you'd like it to complete, always stating the command first. For Example: TEXT Ryan: "You busy later?" CALL Mom. SEARCH movie times in Los Angeles.

In theory, this app is supposed to be a great app for a traveler or the person who spends a lot of time in the car by providing a safe and legal alternative to texting and other distractions. However, the application has a few flaws that could make practical use in the car very difficult.

For starters, the application does not support Bluetooth voice dialing, which means you might have to fiddle a lot, going between written and speaking communication devices. This has the potential to become both distracting and annoying. The fact that you must always tap when you finish speaking because the app doesn't sense when you're finished is also quite irritating.

Additionally, the voice recognition software could use some basic adjustments. The app is great at transcribing English words when responding to the fact that a person is speaking, but it doesn't understand grammar or how words are used differently in context.

For instance, I told the app "Search: bee allergies." While it did clearly comprehend that I wanted to conduct a Google search, it didn't understand which kind of "bee" I was referring to. When the browser loaded, "B allergies" was written inside of the Google search bar. The app also doesn't sense the intonation in my voice when I'm asking a question.

Because searches tend to rely on proper spelling – and also because I am a bit nitpicky when it comes to proper grammar and punctuation, even when it's a text message or an email to a friend – I can see myself becoming distracted by correcting Vlingo's errors.

This app doesn't stop at composing texts and finding nearby restaurants. Vlingo will also open applications on your phone when prompted. Because it can pretty much control your entire phone with the sound of your voice, I can see this app being great for older people who hate touch-screen technology.