Blog Post

Vlingo enjoys a Siri boost: voice actions up 50 percent

Vlingo, a Boston area voice recognition start-up, isn’t sweating the introduction last week of Apple’s Siri (s aapl) 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 (s nuan) as well as Google Voice Actions on Android (s goog) and the speech recognition system built into Windows Phone 7.5 (s msft). 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.

39 Responses to “Vlingo enjoys a Siri boost: voice actions up 50 percent”

  1. Jason Banzer

    Siri is nice. anyone that has been using it will you tell its a seamless and tight integration. Many valid use cases like having it reply to a text for you while your driving. Its flawless. Like being lost somewhere and having it call you a cab. or locating a sports bar nearby. You press 1 button, speak into it and it does it. No questions. Everyone else is trying to poke holes into Apple but its a solid product and well worth the money.

  2. Tracey Smith

    Vlingo is no match for Siri, right now. I’m sure Vlingo will continue to get better. I have a Galaxy S II, and before that I had an iPhone 4. I was using Siri (as an app) before Apple purchased it. It was really good then, and it’s even better now. I’ve used it on an iPhone 4s. Is it perfect? Of course not…and neither is Vlingo. So, there it is.

    I do have problems with Vlingo completing instructions. It often doesn’t understand my commands…and no, English isn’t a second language for me, and I know how to enunciate my words. Vlingo works fine, for what I use it for, and how often I use it.

    I no longer have an iPhone, so I have to go with what’s offered for Android. If I stay with the Android platform, I do expect Vlingo to step it up a few notches and do the darn thing. It needs more functionality to make it necessary for me. I don’t use voice command that much anyway. It’s nice to have when my hands aren’t free. But if it all went away, no sleep would be lost.

    I do wonder if some of the Siri naysayers have actually used it, because some of the responses (all over the web) sound like the typical knee-jerk response to anything Apple. I’m not talking about guys dragging their tech-challenged girlfriends into an Apple store, to rev up Siri and ask it who’s its daddy (I’m a woman, and yeah I said that). I’m talking about actually using it for something…useful. When it works as it should, it’s a great thing. No question.

  3. Here’s a thought for those of you who think this function is stupid/useless…don’t use it. Just because YOU don’t think it’s any good doesn’t mean that it won’t be helpful to others.

  4. Before I downloaded Vlingo, I was a big user of the ‘Where’ app on my iPhone 4. I was always looking up the closest store, restaurant, etc. But with Vlingo I only have to ask, I don’t have to type what I’m looking for. I haven’t had a single problem finding anything. While I would like to have an app like Siri so it can talk back, Vlingo is great too and has been very accurate. I like it.

  5. Ramona Rusilko

    can anyone say STAR TREK? communicators!!! its not that great right now but it will be–almost there-pretty soon we will be “beaming” to our destinations!!!!

  6. David Christopher

    I found this app just in basic search so i installed it for my Droid3.
    Works fantastic and i told my two friends as we were wathcing the games yesterday and they both downloaded it for their respective devices.

    i even got my friends fiance to download it for her Iphone 3gs.

    works great and very helpful.

  7. I just tryed using Vlingo to compare to the Siri on my 4s. Vlingo isnt even in the same universe as Siri. Siri outshines it in every respect. If you dont have Siri then I guess its better than nothing. You cant compare a Bently with a Yugo

  8. Okay, I’ve got Vlingo on an iPad and Siri on an iPhone. Siri does pretty much anything I would ever need. Vlingo would have been cool a few years ago (which is to say that it would have been fun to play with for an hour) but it’s not ready for prime time…at all. Specifically, it has to integrate with contacts and calendar as well as open any available app and input whatever I want to type into that app. Also, I shouldn’t have to tap the screen when I’ve finished speaking.

    I do hope the improvements come fast and furious, though, since I don’t really care WHO writes the best software. I just want to USE the best software. I’m still waiting after all these years for my robot, damnit.

  9. Downloaded Vlingo out of curiosity and Siri-lust (I have an iPhone 4 and don’t plan to upgrade.) So impressed with functionality and especially with recognition accuracy, that I installed it on my wife’s LG Ally Android phone. She has dyslexia, which makes accurate typing a challenge for her. The ability to quickly create, compose, and send texts and emails by voice–while driving, no less–is a game changer for her.

    I’d love to see added functionality for calendar and reminders, and to launch apps. Also being able to hear past unread e-mails rather than just incoming ones in Safereader would be nice. Great app!

  10. Joseph Dorweiler

    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.

  11. 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??

  12. Bobdobbs

    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

      • 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, 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.

  13. Ryan Saffer

    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..

  14. Pete Perry

    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!

  15. Alexander MacGregor

    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.

  16. 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)

    • 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)

  17. 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.

    • 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.

      • Steve Mougeotte

        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?

      • 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.

      • 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

        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.

      • 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 :)

      • 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.