Vlingo Labs: Better Voice Actions for Android

Most of the smartphone companies are venturing into voice recognition technology. It all started with Apple’s Siri on iPhone 4S, though people have always longed for ways they can make their device do tasks without them touching any buttons. In today’s time, voice command is a hot topic when it comes to mobile devices and tablets.

Companies like Blackberry and Microsoft are creating their own voice recognition softwares for their operating systems so that they can compete with Apple’s iOS, but in the meantime several apps have filled the Android landscape to bring such functionality to the open source operating system. Out of all such apps, Vlingo has proved to be the best. Vlingo has been considered the finest voice command software in Android, and may be that is why manufacturers like Samsung have partnered with Vlingo to create their own customized virtual assistant apps. In the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S III, the South Korean mobile giant has come up with something called S-Voice, a competitor for Apple’s Siri. S-Voice is officially available only on Samsung’s flagship phone for 2012, and is essentially based on Vlingo.

The current Vlingo app is very functional, and the only way forward is improvement. Folks at Vlingo have been very busy with experimenting ways to make Vlingo more functional & innovative, and Vlingo Labs (Beta) users can check out the hottest new features that can perhaps end up in the official final Vlingo Virtual Assistant app. Currently, the Vlingo Labs is restricted to Ice Cream Sandwich device users and it is strictly a “test kitchen” where shiny new ideas and test features are brought to life and may not end up in the final app itself. Apart from needing Android 4.0 to run, it also requires the user to be in the United States.

When you launch Vlingo Labs (beta) app, it becomes evident that several features that are present in other apps in the same niche, including Vlingo itself isn’t present in the beta app. Now, that’s not surprising at all since Vlingo Labs (beta) is essentially a way to fetch feedback from the general users, and it is definitely worth the download. The app in its current state allows the user to perform certain actions such as sending messages, scheduling appointments, navigation, placing calls, searching the web and looking up the weather forecast details.

Vlingo Labs has aimed to make a virtual voice assistant which never requires the user to even touch the device in order to order a task.

Creating a virtual assistant without requiring the user to tap any buttons is an ambitious goal as even Apple’s Siri requires the user to tap the mic button on the screen in order to have Siri hearing to you. So far, only Samsung has implemented this type of functionality on Galaxy SIII’s S-Voice, which is again powered by Vlingo. Samsung’s S-Voice requires the user to say “Hey, Galaxy” in order to have it hearing you. Like S-Voice, Vlingo Labs requires you to simply say “Hey, Vlingo” and the virtual voice assistant will be happy to take orders from you, and all this is done with no fingers involved.

In Vlingo Labs, the complete interface has undergone a major overhaul. The interface now is more intuitive and conversational. Vlingo has added more character to the app when compared with stable Vlingo app. Since Vlingo Labs is still in beta stage, it cannot handle certain question, and that’s pretty reasonable. When you ask stuff which it cannot handle or process, it actively asks you to provide feedback so that developers can work on the same in order to deliver a better final product.

Vlingo Labs in its current state is very usable, even though it can’t handle certain stuff which other apps of its kind can do, however, there are certain things which Vlingo Labs can do and its competitors cannot. One such feature is addition and modifications of calendar appointments. Siri is able to handle calendar tasks very well, but developers haven’t created something that will match Siri’s fluid reaction to commands. Some apps have attempted to integrate calendar functions, however they’re very buggy and not very usable. I had always thought Android won’t get that kind of functionality, but after taking a look at Vlingo Labs, I have been forced to rethink. Vlingo Labs makes it really easy to create a calendar appointment and even perform tasks like adding participants to the event whom you want to be notified by email. What’s more? It will even alert you any conflict in the schedule that should occur.
Vlingo Labs implements the conversational nature which makes things really work. In case of appointments, the app will walk you through various steps in order to successfully create an appointment. It will also allow to make changes before saving.

I’m very satisfied with Vlingo Labs, even though it is currently in beta. It’s really good and the fluid interface cannot be matched by any app out there in the Play Store, and the only app I found that’s close to what Vlingo Labs has to offer is S-Voice, which is proprietary for Samsung Galaxy S III. It’s excellent at recognizing most of the commands and will be able to execute most of the tasks that you would expect from virtual voice assistant. Vlingo Labs will also be an excellent companion for Vlingo (the stable release) and other various other voice command apps out there. Vlingo Labs has definitely managed to impress me, and its goal towards hands free voice assistance is admirable. It only remains to see which features will exactly make it to the final release. What are your thoughts on Vlingo Labs? Let us know using the comment form below.

Vlingo Labs (Beta) can be downloaded from here and requires the device to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

You can also try Vlingo Virtual Assistant if you haven’t tried yet. It can be downloaded from here requires the device to run 2.0.1 and up.