x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

App of the Week: Vlingo will suffice fo those waiting on Siri

Curt Brandao reviews a voice-recognition app that can appease those waiting to try out Siri on the iPhone 4S.

I have to admit, I kind of wish I had a new iPhone 4S.

Even if, as many critics say, it's not that big of an upgrade. Even if its A5 processor doesn't speed things up that much.

And even if it has the same form factor as the iPhone 4, which means I'd have to awkwardly work it into conversations just to show it off ("Wait, let me text my brother on my NEW IPHONE 4S", "Sorry I'm late - I had to go back home because I forgot my NEW IPHONE 4S", "Congratulations on the birth of your first child - you must be thrilled … Did I mention I have a NEW IPHONE 4S?"

But the fact is, being an early adopter, just like being the first to jump into a lake before anyone knows where the rocks are, is at least as much high risk as it is high reward.

History has proven that if you're determined to stand in a long line to be part of the consumer tech industry's first crop of real-world test monkeys, you should also be prepared to stand in an even longer line the next day waiting for someone to explain to you what "Error Code 9838" means.

Still, Apple's voice recognition app, Siri, looks cool (5,960 demonstrations on YouTube can't be wrong). But it only works with the iPhone 4S. What are those of us on the outside looking in to do?

The app

Such smartphone transitional periods offer the opportunity for apps such as Vlingo (free; iPhone, Android) to really step up.

At first glance, this voice-recognition app seems to be a kind of "poor-man's Siri", but it actually does certain things that the slick-but-still-in-beta iPhone 4S-only app can't do at all.

The details

Vlingo features a super-simple interface, with a giant "Press & Speak" button that covers the top third of the screen. Underneath are useful examples of what you can ask it to do ("Text Heather, message are we still going to the gym tonight?").

Vlingo also offers a task-specific apps button to speed up the voice-recognition process, so it can quickly transcribe e-mails or SMS messages, call anyone on your contact list and even update Facebook and Twitter by simply listening to what you have to say (ask Siri to do this and she will politely tell you, "Sorry, I can't help you with Twitter").

Is it as fancy, fast or accurate as Siri? Probably not. Will Siri eventually do everything Vlingo does and more? Probably. But as most "on-time adopters" will tell you, it's hard to miss what you don't yet have.

Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at cbrandao@thenational.ae