Vlingo

Siri-ous competition

Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app icon

iOS App of the Week One of the standout features of the new iPhone 4S is the Siri voice-recognition assistant.

Siri started out as just an ordinary third-party app until it was swooped up by Apple, and there are still a number of similar rivals that you can use to add voice-recognition features to older iPhones, as well as the iPod Touch and iPad.

Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app

Vlingo can't be called up from anywhere in iOS - you have to run the app first

The closest counterpart to Siri is probably Vlingo, a free app that used to charge for certain premium features such as dictating SMS messages, but which has decided to go completely free since the launch of Siri.

As it’s a standalone app, you first have to launch Vlingo before you can speak to it. And, like Siri, it requires an active 3G or Wi-Fi internet connection in order to work properly.

Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app

Vlingo lets you dictate email (left) and text messages (right)

You simply tap a button on its home screen when you’re ready to start speaking, and then tap again when you’re finished to tell the app to start processing your words.

I found that Vlingo worked just as well as Siri for routine tasks such as dictating short emails, initiating phone calls, and performing web searches. In fact, it actually seems a bit better than Siri at interpreting pauses in your voice and converting them into punctuation marks such as commas and full stops.

Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app

Vlingo also works with the Maps app (left) and both Facebook and Twitter (right)

It’s not as well integrated with other iOS apps as Siri is. For instance, you can’t dictate into Notes or Pages with Vlingo as you can with Siri - though there are dedicated dictation apps that you can try too, such as Dragon Dictation.

However, Vlingo does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve that Apple will no doubt want to add to Siri in due course. It can send spoken updates to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, and it also works with the iOS Maps app here in the UK – something that Siri can’t do at all at the moment.

Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app

The app comes with examples to get you started

RH Recommended Medal

While Vlingo may not be as polished as Siri, it’s still worth checking out if you want hands-free voice control of your iPhone when you’re in the car or jogging around the park. ®

We make our selection of the best iOS smartphone and tablet downloads every Thursday. It you think there's an app we should be considering, please let us know.

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Vlingo iOS voice-recognition app icon

Vlingo

Voice-recognition app that may lack the polish of Siri on the iPhone 4S but delivers almost all the functionality.
Price: Free RRP