Review: vlingo for BlackBerry Smartphones

By Ryan Blundell on 22 Aug 2008 09:23 am EDT


"Why tap when you can talk?"

Raise your hand if you type and drive at the same time? No!! Keep your hands on the wheel! I typically use my Bluetooth headset to safely keep in touch while I'm on the road. For some, this type of communication may not be enough. If you do find it necessary to multitask in your motorcar, vlingo has the answer for you.

Using your BlackBerry, and vlingo assigned to one of your convenience keys, you can keep mobile by using your vocal chords. This application permits you to send text or emails, make a call, create "note2self" entries, tasks, web searches and so on. Back in late June, vlingo first became available, with mixed reviews. I took a long look at the forums, scouring them for anything vlingo related. It seems that with previous releases, there were a lot of issues. I've been testing v1.1 and I have to say that the smiley face icon it uses finally has a reason to smile. The most important updates include; enhanced connectivity and the ability to forward and/or reply to text messages and emails. I bet you want to see what else is new?

Vlingo is available for the Pearl, Curve at the 88xx series. Hopefully, since the Bold is finally out, we'll see it on one soon. I don't think I've had a more in depth, or friendly, set up for an application. It politely walked me through the entire process, giving me tips and hints. It took a while for it to recognize what I was saying during the set up. It'll be quite some time before I "Web Search Concert Tickets" again.

How it works

Unlike voice command/dialing which can limit your world of words to perform, the technology behind vlingo gives you an unlimited vocabulary, but you should still watch your potty mouth. This new technology includes automatic adaptation; it learns what you are most likely to say in each application. More specifically, a technology known as HLMs, or Hierarchical Language Models, empowers vlingo's sponge-like mind to potentially recognize millions and millions of words.

Have a closer look at the components behind the application:

HLM Based Speech Recognition

The HLMs I mentioned earlier are said to be based on statistical models. These models are used to decipher the groupings and the frequency of use of words. Vlingo gave a good example of this:

"let's meet at ___" is likely to be followed by something like "1 pm" or the name of a place.

What wordsmith wants to limit their vast knowledge of language? The more you use vlingo, the better it will work for you. Keep in mind that vlingo is used for emails, text, task, and web searches. What good would it be if you cannot say what you mean and mean what you say?


Vlingo is constantly adapting the HLMS to application and user traits. It learns new words, patterns and frequency of word usages. It even recognizes, over time, pronunciation of words across the board. So it adapts to you and say those who have the same accent. All of this is done automatically.

For this review, I'm sure vlingo won't mind me using the figure below detailing the adaptation process:


What does this mean? It means vlingo has greater language accuracy, giving your voice power over applications, and ease of use to users from all walks of life.

Shut up and talk already

What can I say? Where's my Bold?!

Using vlingo is pretty easy after the initial set-up. You're required to assign one of your convenience keys to utilize vlingo. Now press and hold the assigned side key. A pop-up window will indicate that vlingo is listening, waiting for your command. Finally, at least someone cares what I have to say. When you have completed your request, release the side key. When this happens the pop-up window switches from "listening" to "thinking". When it is working, vlingo is deciphering your request and composing its equivalent text or it will open the application you instructed. Vlingo uses text boxes to show its interpretation. These boxes won't support SureType. In the boxes, you can edit the entries too. Vlingo can display alternative words (depending on if the word has similar sound words) The newest version sports automatic capitalization, for proper nouns and for the first letter after punctuation. Punctuations are spoken, like Question Mark, or Period.

It seems like vlingo aims to please and wants to make sure it's doing a good job. It will actually say your request back to you to confirm. You can choose to hear a male or female voice. Yeesh, now my BlackBerry talks back to me....


Vlingo can be used to open Tasks, Memopad, Browser, Maps, Calendar Address Book BBSearch and Messages (both email or text, no BB Messenger support).

It is said that vlingo is mostly used for:


"Email Kevin Subject Review Message What do you think of the review so far question mark"

Looks like broken English doesn't it? If you say it aloud, it makes sense. Let's break it down.

Email - tells vlingo you wish to compose an email to a contact in your address book (in this case it's Kevin)
Subject - tells vlingo the text to enter in the subject field
Message - tells vlingo the text to enter into the body of the email


Text Messaging

"Send message to Kevin Message Kevin did you get my email question mark"

The steps are almost the same as sending an email. In this case, there isn't a subject field to take into consideration. Again, vlingo only has access to contacts in your address book.

Text Messaging

Voice Dial

"Call Kevin Cell"

Not only can vlingo dial contacts in your address book, but you can also select which number to use. So, you can call Kevin at home, work or on his mobile. Vlingo can also dial your voicemail, but I already have my speed dial "1" key to do that. I find it slightly more work to say call voicemail.

Voice Dialing

Web Search

"BlackBerry Bold"

In this mode, you don't have to say "Web Search" or "Look for" before saying your inquiry. I do simply out of habit. After you make your request, the next page will display the text in the text box. If there is any doubt, a drop down field will display alternative entries. Vlingo uses the native BB Browser and the Yahoo! One Search by default. You can switch the search engine to Google by either, the settings or simply say "Google BlackBerry Bold"

Search via Google

or Yahoo!


There are a few ways you can make a note for yourself;

"Note to self" is the most versatile command. To use this method;

Say your message (example "Note to self buy a BlackBerry Bold")
Click Save to save it in Tasks. Click Save As and save the message as a note in MemoPad or send it to yourself as an email or text message.



Using vlingo was fun and efficient. In some cases, it felt like I was dictating a message to my assistant. In other cases, (like Note2Self) I felt like I was using one of those personal recorders, and found myself talking in a somewhat cheesy tone. At first it was a little clumsy. "Call Chantal" became "Clown Sean Tell." As time marches on, vlingo was indeed easier to use. Why adapt to an application when it can adapt to you? This version has a much faster response time than previous. I have an 8310 so the WiFi improvements didn't matter. For the WiFi Berrys, this version "should no longer require you to turn off WiFi when you are no longer connected via the WiFi network"

I think vlingo should also market the fact that using the application should reduce the risk of BlackBerry Thumbs. For more information on vlingo, and to pick it up for free, click here. Great Job Vlingo!!


  • in depth and friendly set up
  • one touch access to various applications
  • hands free messaging
  • intuitive speech recognition


  • not all applications are supported
  • suretype not supported
  • no mumbling allowed


Reader comments

Review: vlingo for BlackBerry Smartphones


I saw this apps a while ago on the site, but i couldn't remember the name. Tried going back to older posts but had no luck.

I have tried this application before. It works alright if you speak slowly and don't have any names in your address book that sound similar. I found that if it doesn't get the recognition correct the first time, you actually end up wasting more time trying to make it work than if you would have just typed it the first time.

Was cool at first, but never really used it after the first 20 minutes of messing with it.

I've tried this app. While it works really well, it doesn't support enough applications for me (ie. making a wall post on a facebook wall etc.)

As soon as they implement more compatibility with 3rd party apps with text input fields I'll download this app again

I am the same i spent more time retyping and correcting than i did using it maybe i need more time to use it so it recognizes my voice patterns not sure but kinda hard to conquer

vlingo added “reply with vlingo”, “reply all with vlingo” and “forward with vlingo” commands to BlackBerry’s own Messages menus to the soon to be released update. You will be able to speak to reply or forward your emails and SMS messages. This lets you reply right from the same place you’re reading your messages.

the version I'm running is

Didn't work on my Curve running OS 4.5, Kinda sucks i think this would be a cool app! but let hope they fix it for the newer version.

Didn't work on my Curve running OS 4.5, Kinda sucks i think this would be a cool app! but let hope they fix it for the newer version.

I'm running OS 4.5 & surprisingly this app works fine so far with my 8310 att Curve.

I have Vlingo version, though.

I did not get an option for a 1.1 download when I went to the Vlingo download link from my Curve, just version


Looks interesting. Any chance of some integration with apps like Twitter please? Also I use Blackberry messenger, would this work?


How does it work with the data network? Is it crunching everything on the bb itself or pulling info from outside?

vlingo version 1.1 will be unleashed September 2nd. The new features will be included.

I've also tried the application using os 4.5 (vlingo had sent me a file for os 4.2 and os 4.5) and it's working well.

Cross your fingers boys and girls!

If the purpose is to make it so that you dont have to look at the screen then the only downfall of this fabulous program is being able to say "accept" or "send" once you review what you've said and how it has been translated.
Other than that is program is lots of fun. Just another thing my phone can do better than theirs!

Doesn't work with BB Messenger or PIN, but they say they could add in future if enough people show interest in it. Working on my 8820 - though not as well as I would like have had to correct a bit so far. Hoping it improves as it gets to know me.

I love it!

got the 8330 curve with verizon and it works perfectly!
takes some getting used to but it sure does come in handy and it gets what your saying 9 times out of 10!



i dont get it, vlingo only works for carriers in the US and Canada? Cuz i´ve downloaded it and it doesnt work on my bb curve

It tells me after I download it, that to allow setting. Everything is checked "allow" but it wants me to allow WI 8100 from T-MO doesn't have WI FI! I deleted the app.

It can apparently recognize my voice via bluetooth headset, but I cannot hear Vlingo's voice instructions back through my headset.

Also, it would be nice if I could open Vlingo when I press my headset button, right now it only opens the OEM voice dialing.

I've only used Vlingo for a short while, the jury's still out on this one for me.

I would definitely use this if I could open it just using my headset, and if I could confirm my input via bt headset as I don't like to fiddle with my BB while driving.

I just installed this for my att curve running 4.5 OS and it isn't working. Everytime I hit the speak button I say what I want it to do and it says that I can't be heard. Hold it closer to my mouth and speak louder, but I am speaking very loud and clear when I hit the button. I don't know why this isn't working?

I just installed this for my att curve running 4.5 OS and it isn't working. Everytime I hit the speak button I say what I want it to do and it says that I can't be heard. Hold it closer to my mouth and speak louder, but I am speaking very loud and clear when I hit the button. I don't know why this isn't working?

I like it for the calling features but I have to get used to using it for texting, e-mailing and search. I think the functionality is great for short texts/e-mails and not for frequent use.

I have downloaded Vlingo version on my Verizon 8830 WE. The only issue that I have noticed is that I am no longer able to say "Status" and get Battery Power and Signal Strength. Works okay, even with a Southern Boy Accent :)

works OK -- i'd only use this app for fun and games texts and NEVER for business. the potential for wrong info being sent is too high. I just use it for real quick texts to family -- things like "dinner?" or "call me" -- if it's a a long or complicated message it's not very accurate.

I have a Curve 8310 w/ 4.5 and on AT&T. This application worked twice then started saying "I couldn't hear very well. Try holding the phone next to your mouth and speak up."

It didn't seem very accurate to begin with.. So Oh well..

I had trouble getting this program to run. I restarted my phone once while I had it still installed, tried it again and it still did not work. I then uninstalled it and reinstalled it and now it is working just fine.

However, no matter how many times I "correct" it. It does not adjust to me. I am having a lot of trouble getting the program to choose Kari in my phonebook. It types in "Cherie" or "Carry".

I have tested voice command software that you have to pay every month and those work fantastic! I was very amazed. I could type almost a paragraph with very few mistakes, if any. This isn't the greatest.. However, it is FREE!

i just installed it now into my at&t blackberry 8310. works pretty well. it catches on to short simple phrases but not when the sentence is really long. as i use it more often tho, hopefully it'll recognize my voice better. anything will do just about now cuz since some of my keys havent been working (soup spilled all over it about a month ago), manually texting hasnt really been a pleasant experience.. so this is EXACTLY what i need =).

that it only has to be in ur contact list, actually if u say
" send message 416-xxx-xxxx message hello world"
it will actually send hello world to the number, ofcourse any other message or number will work as well!

btw i love this app for driving its a time saver also when ur busy with ur computer it helps me be lazy!

I downloaded it and started installing it but it insists on using the ONLY side button on my 8830 for vlingo rather than the built-in voice dialing. I don't want to give that up.

Also, I'm really concerned about allowing carte blanche access to vlingo for everything on my Blackberry, including mailbox, phone, etc. It would be easy for someone at vlingo to plant a trojan horse or have a bug to allow someone else to do nasty things.

I bought Vlingo Pro, and I must say, the idea is great, however, I found almost 100% of my messages needed editing. (It is more dangerous to edit a text while driving than to actually type it!)
Also, tried it on my Curve first, and bought a Tour. Vlingo and Blackberry both point fingers at each other for getting the license transferred which should be possible, but both claim to speak with each other. If you are a true Crackberry addict and will buy new phones, you will have to purchase this repeatedly...each time you change. Transfers DO NOT WORK (after 1 month of trying)

I haven't downloaded or used the Google version yet, but you should have mentioned a synopsis of the license agreement for vlingo. This is quite an extensive set of rules the user is agreeing to and there is a mention of a subscription fee basis without any further explanation. I would simply recommend anyone who chooses to use the free app to read carefully the terms of service agreement which you must accept before gaining access to the app.

Not only that, but it clearly states on their website that they collect all your address book contact names and companies so it can perform the contact searches. There's no opt-out either, it says on their website if you're not comfortable with the data collection then you should simply not install the product.

i am having problem saving my right or left side key for vlingo version 4.5.1, after i save either key, when i go back to continue installation it complains that i havent set my side key, i cant go any further only to go back

I like the idea of hearing incoming messages but why limit it to the first 30 words even for the paid version! Also it would be nice to open new messages after they have been received and hear them.