Chances are, you have been hit with the dreaded cell phone ban. That means keep your friggin’ hands off of your mobile device while driving. I shouldn’t say dreaded, as it is a good thing. It will hopefully keep the roads safer, allowing you to stay alive long enough to check in at more venues on FourSquare. Now if only they could enforce a “stop putting on your makeup in the mirror” or “quit trying to juggle a coffee and an egg McMuffin” ban as well; the road would be close to accident free. Well, except for the “hey dude, stop rubber necking and stop gawking at the girl walking down the street” drivers.
Now this doesn’t mean that you have to completely neglect your BlackBerry. Oh no, it just means you have to get creative with the way you use it. I present to you the CrackBerry Guide to Voice to Text applications. We’ll have a look at the best ways you can still keep in touch, while minimizing getting busted by the fuzz. While these apps are designed to reduce hands-on BlackBerry use and abuse, the developers and we at CrackBerry take no responsibility if you get caught and slapped with a fine. If you are driving, pull over and have a quick read.
There are plenty of fantastic voice dictation applications that are available to BlackBerry users. For the purpose of promoting safe driving, we won’t focus on “voice to text” applications such as SpinVox, as those would be counter-productive while on the road.
Dubbed the app to stop distracted driving, DriveSafe.ly keeps you safe and connected. This application supports emails, SMS and BBM communication and reads your incoming messages out loud. Its settings allow you to turn on/off audio notifications, such as the sender of the message. Drivesafe.ly comes in a free and pro version. In the free version, you can listen up to 25 words of each message. The Pro version gives you the option to hear up to 10, 25, 50, 100, 250 or 500 words. The Pro version also allows you to alter the speed that the message is read, as well as change gender of the voice.
A beta feature that Drivesafe.ly has is a GPS-enabled speed activation option. Once you hit 16mph or faster, Drivesafe.ly activates. Drivesafe.ly Pro is available for $29.99
Vlingo is a robust voice command application that covers almost everything that you can do with your BlackBerry. The SafeReader feature reads your email and text messages to you when they appear on your BlackBerry. Besides messages, you can use Vlingo to make a call, open applications, browse, update Twitter or Facebook and send Vlingo to Vlingo messages. Not bad for a free application. To get even more features, switch to the Plus version. With Vlingo Plus, you can send outgoing text and email (including replies and forwards) and use the Vlingo Everywhere feature. Vlingo Everywhere taps into BBM, Yahoo messenger and more, to type as you talk. You can also manage calendar entries, add new contacts and more. Vlingo Plus is available for a one-time $19.99 fee or a monthly fee of $3.99.
That blinking LED tortures even the strongest willed BlackBerry user. Do you risk picking your BlackBerry up to read it? Try it and the next flashing light you see will be from the police cruiser pulling you over. Text’nDrive is designed to read your email and text messages out loud to you. There is a limit of 500 words, but at that length, you may as well put on an audio book. This version of Text’nDrive is free. There is also a premium version of Text’nDrive that allows you to dictate responses to these messages as well. The premium version of Text’nDrive can be picked up for $19.95.
There’s no need to know how to train this dragon. Powered by Dragon NaturallySpeaking, you can dictate emails directly from your native BlackBerry email client. This includes contact info (once uploaded to the Nuance servers) and subject lines. The application also recognizes commands like punctuation and paragraphs. Dragon doesn’t limit the type of emails to send, meaning that you can also forward or reply to emails as well. Minimal key strokes are required, as it’s literally one button access. Hopefully in future builds they will include SMS and BBM functionality as well. You can pick up Dragon for Email absolutely free.
With Voice on the Go, it provides access to BlackBerry users with little time on their hands and even less time with their device in their hands. The application is set up to help you update your Twitter and Facebook accounts easily. You can also search for contacts and choose which of their numbers you wish to contact them with. Emails and SMS can be read, composed, deleted, forwarded and replied to. Voice on the Go also has access to your calendar, enabling you to make quick appointment entries. Voice on the Go is available at a monthly price of $5.99; there is also a 30 day free trial available.
VReadEM will read your received email and text messages aloud without having to touch your BlackBerry. You can also browse through all of your unopened messages and select the ones you want to hear. Apparently, there is a limit of 100 messages per day that can be read and cut after 100 lines of text. VReadEM is available for a monthly fee of $1.99 or an annual fee of $19.99.
MyCaption offers a reliable voice to text service that goes beyond messaging. You can also create calendar entries, tasks, memos and add contact notes. Essentially, MyCaption acts as the ultimate “note to self”. Email, SMS and PIN messages are all supported. The application will allow you to speak for up to 3 minutes (depending on your MyCaption plan), giving adequate time to capture your information. More email options are also supported, such as forwarding email w/ attachments, message review and reply or reply all. There is a free trial available for the application. MyCaption also has various plans to choose from; subscription plans as low as $19.95 for 3 months, while Pay as you Go plans start at $14 for 40 minutes.
These applications come in handy even when you’re not behind the wheel. If you can walk and chew gum, you surely can dictate an email to your BlackBerry while working on a project from your computer, preparing a meal or even massaging your loved ones feet. Don’t forget that your BlackBerry also uses voice command for a variety of things. You can call contacts at a desired phone number, call an extension within your company, as well as check your battery, signal strength, phone number and connected network. If you are using any other dictation apps to help you stay safe while driving, let us know.
Image Source: Mike Luckovich from the Atlanta Journal Constitution