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Summary:

Vlingo, a voice recognition start-up, isn’t sweating the introduction of Apple’s Siri voice action and AI system. In fact, the start-up saw its best week last week with five consecutive days of record usage with voice actions up 50 percent daily over the previous high.

Screen shot 2011-10-17 at 6.29.58 AM

Vlingo, a Boston area voice recognition start-up, isn’t sweating the introduction last week of Apple’s Siri  voice action and artificial intelligence system. In fact, the start-up saw its best week last week with five consecutive days of record usage: voice actions were up 50 percent daily over the previous high, the company told me.

Vlingo, which puts out a handful of voice recognition and virtual assistant apps for various phone platforms, is on a tear with 550 million voice actions in the third quarter of this year, up from 200 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. It also added 2.5 million users in the third quarter. The company has had more voice actions in 2011 than in the entire history of the company and the fourth quarter is shaping up to be another record breaker for Vlingo.

It’s a good sign for Vlingo and backs up CEO Dave Grannan’s initial hope that Siri would be a rising tide that lifts all voice technology boats. Of Vlingo’s 10 million users, 4 million are on the iOS platform. Vlingo’s latest boost may also be due to the company’s decision earlier this month to make its app completely free to help it compete with Siri. Said Grannan:

“The last 10 days have truly shown that the market has embraced the voice-powered Assistant.  Apple announcing that Siri would be the centerpiece of the new iPhone 4S has had nothing but a positive impact for Vlingo.  Vlingo saw its usage doubled following the announcement, and we have seen interest and activity at all-time highs in the week since. Clearly, Vlingo has been identified by customers and the media alike as a longtime leader in the market, and presently the best alternative for anyone without an iPhone 4S, including all Android and BlackBerry owners.”

Apple’s big extension into voice recognition should be a boost for Vlingo and Nuance as well as Google Voice Actions on Android and the speech recognition system built into Windows Phone 7.5. As I’ve written before, voice is increasingly a mobile technology and as most of the major smartphone platforms are now incorporating voice actions, it’s going to change the expectations of users, who will increasingly look at interacting with their phones through voice. Take a look at this infographic charting Vlingo’s growth.

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  1. Chance Stevens Monday, October 17, 2011

    It’s worth noting the voice services in the new Galaxy S II are provided by Vlingo. This could help to contribute to this as well past the launch of the 4S

    1. Unless you have dexterity/sight issues, why would you want to talk to a phone? You would look like a d**khead.
      A few taps of an onscreen keyboard surely aren’t SUCH a bad thing?

      1. Sooooo….let me get this straight. Talking into a PHONE looks weird to you? Um, isn’t that their original function????

      2. When you are driving it CAN be a bad thing.

      3. Oh, wait. “Who would talk to a phone?” rotflmao. Isn’t that the point. Talk to a person thru the phone. We have voice to text then text to voice, just call the person damn it!

  2. Yeah… I was one of those Galaxy S II users who gave Vlingo a try this past weekend. What a piece of crap. I couldn’t get it to do anything useful – and it’s certainly nowhere near as fluid / natural as interacting with Siri.

    Yeah. I’m jealous.

    1. TJ, Product Marketing @Vlingo Mike Monday, October 17, 2011

      Hey Mike. I work at Vlingo. Sorry you didn’t have a great experience with the Galaxy S II. Admittedly, we were not trying to build a Siri clone (would have been tough considering we were in market before it was revealed). We focused more on a few core functions, and then enabling customers to do those even when they couldn’t touch their phones. So I’m sorry if you thought it would work just like Siri. That was never our aim. I think you will find that Siri isn’t truly a “handsfree” experience, however, so your S II has some real built in advantages as well.

      1. Yea, well, I couldn’t get Vlingo to even hear my requests. And I just wanted it to send a text message. I was yelling at the phone – yea, not good. My Google Voice search works. Why would that be that Vlingo couldn’t hear me?

      2. Hi,

        Why does Vlingo need data to be turn on before it can work? It’s just voice activated software, right, does it need data network for composing message, calling someone? For web search i can understand it would need.

      3. Steve, sounds like you are having an unusual technical problem. I can’t say I’ve personally run into a situation where Vlingo couldn’t hear the input (unless of course you were at a concert). Check in with our Support Team here and then should be able to help you troubleshoot http://www.vlingo.com/Support

        Murali, Vlingo requires a network connection because the voice recognition and artificial intelligence we need to run our application is done in the cloud. Think of Vlingo as a service that runs on the network, and your phone is really just where you give your commands and we display the results. All the heavy lifting is done off the device in the cloud.

      4. TJ, Yes i googled and learnt that’s how Vlingo works, from the cloud. It did work well for me from voice/word recognition perspective, but turning on data for it actually turned me off :( unfortunately that’s how it is. Having said that I was quite impressed with it and feels it has lot of potential to improve and compete with Apple’s Siri, so it still remains in my phone and not removed yet :)

      5. Honestly, Siri is overrated. You have to have damn near perfect diction and no background noise. I was much more pleased with the voice activated google function on my droid.

  3. Unfortunately since Apple has the hardware and software locked down so tight, using Vlingo isn’t nearly as seamless as Siri. I’ve used both (on a friend’s 4S, and Vlingo on my 4). Siri is way more convenient because you can just hold the phone to your head and start talking (or use a headset), or push a hardware button to initiate it (even if it’s locked).

    With any other app you have to unlock the phone, open the app, press the software button and THEN start talking. Plus Siri integrates with local apps, like Reminders, Calendar, etc…. but the third party apps can’t do that. Just as Google sees search as the window to everything, I think Siri will end up becoming the portal to everything on the iPhone, ultimately helping to steer people to restaurants, doctors, directions, websites and so much more.

    So yes, I think Siri is helping to raise awareness and desirability of voice commands and voice assistance in general. But on the iOS platform, you’ll get a second rate user experience if you’re not using Apple’s version (and that’s been purposely engineered by Apple)… even if the third party apps have better end results.

    I feel like I should state that I’m a huge Apple fan/customer. But their tight grip on the platform (I’m not talking about the Appstore per se, but their overwhelming control over the platform itself, is making me wince more and more everyday.

    On a related note: Third party apps have been locked out of using the volume button to snap pictures. Previously, Camera+ had this feature, but with iOS5, Apple has locked out all other vendors and made it work only inside their camera app. There’s no technical reason to do this, as only one camera app can be active at a time, so they’d never “conflict” with one another. This is just Apple exerting control over the device and software to ensure that their products are able to do exceptional things, and everyone else’s apps are relegated to sopping up the leftover bits. I’m not remotely suggesting Apple wants other apps to suck — that would hurt their platform — but any space they deem interesting will likely get walled off and dominated by whatever play they decide to make.

    OMG, I really didn’t mean to rant like that ;) oh well. Most of my friends would consider me an Apple evangelist (for 10-20 yrs)

    1. On the blackberry Vlingo works via convenience keys at the side of the device even with the screen locked. It also integrates with 3rd party apps and performs admirably with my uncommon dialect (Nigerian)

  4. Alexander MacGregor Monday, October 17, 2011

    Had voice functions on my phone ages; pointless. Siri is just apple updating another pointless application and calling it a brand new grounbreaking idea. Sigh.

    1. Not really the same thing…

  5. I dunno, I was using VLingo last night and I had it working great… I love the car mode and that’s really what I would want it for anyway!

    Seriously, VLingo focused on the practical, Siri gave your magic 8 ball a voice!

  6. I dont really care about this software on phones, I mean yes its cool, but not very practicle, I think its best use if setting alarms and reminders. But having said that, I am certainly excited for the development of speech recognition technology, especially its integration within iOS, and it looks like that dream everyone has of controlling their world with their voice, whether it be turning on and off the tv and controlling the channels, setting alarms, turning on the lights, or just getting information, I think with the release of Siri, that dream is edging closer..

  7. Vlingo is the most accurate voice app i’ve ever used. Its important to know that it can set as the primary voice control in the voice input settings on Android. I love the fact that it will work via any headset, but without one you have to hold the phone mic up to your mouth. It without question makes me much safer when driving. i do wish the ios version had an in-car mode like the Android set up

    1. TJ, Product Marketing @Vlingo Bobdobbs Tuesday, October 18, 2011

      Thanks for the comment, Bobdobbs. Always great to hear feedback from customers. Glad that our recognition and handsfree functionality have worked so well for you.

      1. Vlingo is certainly the go to app for voice on the Android platform. That being said, I have tried it on my original Droid and now my Droid X with the same problem, it just causes it to slow to a crawl. I don’t know what does it, but when I put it on I notice a distinct failure to respond from the phone. I uninstall it and it goes away. I am disappointed, because it’s voice recognition in the car is outstanding. If you have a suggestion you can let me know by email at ryan at jimryan dot com.

        Jim

      2. Jim, try running Deck’s ROM instead of a sense based rom. I used to shy away from phones that didn’t come preinstalled with SENSE rom’s on them, b/c I at least wanted to have it as an option & didn’t really like CM all the time, but with Deck’s breed of CM, I can honestly say I’m never going back now anyway. It’s crazy how an old EVO can run smoother & faster than some of my friend’s new phones, and certainly faster than it ever has prior to finding Decks.

  8. Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

  9. Hey T.J can you answer a few questions. Vlingo is supposed to activate in car mode the moment you pair an B.T headset with your phone(p.s i’m using an htc desire so android). I went into the settings and switched on that setting. The thing is though i still find myself having to swict the phone on , unlock it, scroll to the vlingo app, then activate in car mode then wake vlingo up by talking to the phone the it kicks in. Now its supposed to be a handsfree app isn’t it?? Maybe its my handset but i’ve used the microsoft voice version and all i had to do was press my headset button and wham bang my phone is switched on and ready to go. how can i get it to do that?? Does vlingo support that??

  10. Joseph Dorweiler Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    I haven’t even tried this technology until I read about Siri. I do know since trying Vlingo I like it very much and don’t care if it actually talks back to me but I think it will soon which would be cool. I don’t want another Iphone and will wait until a similar upgrade that will comes to the Android platform. For now I think the way Vlingo works now with the Android platform is really cool and I don’t miss my Iphone at all. I’m using the Bionic.

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