Voice command is definitely a hot topic when it comes to mobile devices like your Android phones and Tablets. Even before Siri started strutting her stuff on prime time television, mobile users have longed for a way to make their devices take action without having to diddle with the screens and keypads.
Of course, many apps have sprung up to fill this gap, and as far as the Android landscape is concerned, Vlingo is at the top of the food chain. You can’t really discuss voice command on Android without mentioning it. This is likely why manufacturers like Samsung have partnered with Vlingo to create their own customized virtual assistant apps. Siri-competitor S-Voice, only officially available on the Samsung Galaxy S III at the time of this writing, is obviously based on Vlingo.
Vlingo Labs (Beta) is where users with an Ice Cream Sandwich device can test out the hottest new features that could end up in the official Vlingo Virtual Assistant app. In this case, we are dealing with a true beta app. It is strictly a “test kitchen” for shiny new ideas and test features that may end up elsewhere.
Both authors highlight an important difference between Android’s Voice Actions and iOS’s Siri (aside from the marketing): Voice Actions works like a command line or keyboard shortcut, while Siri aims to be a natural language computer assistant.
It reminds me of Yahoo Search vs. Ask Jeeves back in the early 2000s; so-called “natural language” recognition may be more elegant and impressive and capable of constructing complex queries, but it’s far from natural – the natural way to inquire about something is to point at it and grunt. This could be why keyword-based search engines have typically been way more popular and useful. Want food? Search [food].
I’ve been enjoying playing with Vlingo in the past week, grunting commands like “play music”, “call Bob”, “search killer whale length”. This, to me, is much more comfortable than asking “How long is the average killer whale?”
I’m not trying to knock Siri – I don’t even have an iPhone so I can hardly give it a fair evaluation, and I believe it can cope with “grunt” commands as well – I’m just making the point that I’m happy happy with voice commands, without the need for full natural language processing.
What about you?
If there is one thing you are absolutely not supposed to be doing while driving, it’s playing with your phone. Not only is this a dangerous (and in many places illegal) practice, but also highly inefficient; if you’re trying to text while driving, for example, it’s pretty much impossible to do either very well.
Fortunately, there are a number of applications for Android that help you get things done while driving, and even maximize your driving experience. There are some that actually make driving fun. Here are a few that caught my eye.
Have you ever been driving, and needed to use your phone in any way? Maybe you need to make a call, send a text message, use navigation to find the place you are going to… Using your phone when driving is dangerous. But now, thanks to the Vlingo Corporation, you can do all of these things, without touching your phone!