"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
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
"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.
"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.
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"
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!!