Vlingo: unremarkable, unnecessary?

Vlingo Start Screen

A recent firmware update on my N97 (v21.0.045 if you must know) added an app I had never used before yet looked familiar to me. Sure enough, it was also pre-installed on the N97 mini I’ve been trialling. It’s called Vlingo, and brings speech-to-text to Nokia Nseries smartphones.

There’s no point in duplicating other in-depth reviews of Vlingo that you can read elsewhere on the web — try here and here for starters. Suffice to say that in my limited testing Vlingo didn’t impress. Though letter-perfect with stock phrases it was noticeably worse in real-world use.

Though similar in its mission to something like SpinVox, expectations of Vlingo are entirely different. With SpinVox, I’m not expecting a perfect transcription, but only enough to get the gist of a caller’s voicemail. Because I would supposedly use Vlingo to send an outgoing text or email, perform a Google search or even transcribe a personal note, it has to be accurate enough that you don’t have to perform major edits on what you say.

And it just isn’t.

I’ll admit that beyond SpinVox (which, by the way, is infamously powered by human beings) I don’t really have a critical day-to-day need for speech-to-text apps; I’ve used what’s built into Goog-411 and endured the annoying menu systems of my bank and utility companies, but I can’t say I’ve been unduly impressed by those, either.

Maybe I’m biased, because the scenario of a busy street filled people barking commands and messages into their mobiles doesn’t exactly thrill me. I’ll take a good stiff keypad instead, thanks.

Or maybe I’m missing out. Is speech-to-text any better on your mobile OS?

2 comments:

  1. Yes. You’re missing it. I have Vlingo on my BlackBerry Storm2 and I can understand why you’re missing it. It takes a while for you to really get the full functionality of the app. It learns your speech pattern the more you use it.

    If you’re speaking an email into Vlingo you have to speak the punctuations you want. It might get words wrong for the first few days you use it but it gets better with every use. Also, there are continuous updates that improve the functionality.

    Its my most used productivity app this far. I’m sold on it.

  2. Yes. You’re missing it. I have Vlingo on my BlackBerry Storm2 and I can understand why you’re missing it. It takes a while for you to really get the full functionality of the app. It learns your speech pattern the more you use it.

    If you’re speaking an email into Vlingo you have to speak the punctuations you want. It might get words wrong for the first few days you use it but it gets better with every use. Also, there are continuous updates that improve the functionality.

    Its my most used productivity app this far. I’m sold on it.

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