Vlingo for Android – Now you are “free” to compare

Just a few hours ago here at Vlingo, we all watched along with the rest of the industry as Google launched Voice Actions for Android. After playing with it for the last hour on our Sprint Evo running Froyo our conclusion is: Awesome Product. The Google guys have done it again. The app is snappy, has great polish and usability.  Voice Actions has set a new standard that the teams at Apple, Nokia, RIM and Microsoft are going to be measured by.

It’s hard to believe it was only 18 months ago when many in our industry were still saying voice recognition would never be good enough for consumer mobile markets. What a difference 18 months makes. We founded Vlingo in 2006 on the belief that voice is the next revolutionary UI in mobile and since then we have created apps to turn users’ words into actions across all phones. We love to see someone of Google’s stature validating this market.

In many ways Voice Actions for Android is very similar to the Vlingo for Android product—just by pushing a widget button on the home screen you can speak to your Android phone and have Voice Actions turn your words into actions. Just like Vlingo you can speak to send a text message or an email, navigate to a business location, search the web, and much more. The Voice Actions business dialing feature is very similar to Vlingo’s SuperDialer—you just say “call <business name>” such as “call Blue Ribbon Barbecue” and Voice Actions dials the business for you. It even goes farther in some areas—my favorite is setting the alarm clock on the phone just by speaking “Set alarm for 8 am.”

For all the appeal of Voice Actions, we think we still have something compelling to offer the market by virtue of Vlingo being an independent provider of voice-enablement: namely we don’t have to preference any particular content. So just as our product runs across all smartphones (iPhone, Android, RIM BlackBerry, Nokia Series 60, Windows Mobile), we also mash up with content other than Google content. Our current Android product leverages Facebook and Twitter for example (and here’s a hint—look for more such mash ups coming out very soon in our Vlingo for Android product). And of course we also have other features not yet present in Voice Actions, such as our SafeReader feature that reads your incoming text and email messages to you.

But saying we have something to offer is not as compelling as showing it—so following Google’s lead we’ve decided to make our product free on Android effective immediately so you can compare for yourself. Also—since Voice Actions only runs on 2.2 and above, we don’t want 2.0 and 2.1 users to feel they don’t have any options until they upgrade.

So try them both and let us know what you think.

Well done Google.

Dave Grannan, President & CEO, Vlingo

  • http://stevefindley.blogspot.com Steve Findley

    As a prior dedicated Blackberry Vlingo user and now Vlingo for Android (Really need the Bluetooth connection on the Incredible!)…I am thoroughly impressed with Vlingo’s response to Google’s new app. In this age of “cooperatition” it is refreshing to see a fair, honest assessment…and so quickly. Gotta love Vlingo!

    • http://blog.vlingo.com TJ

      Thanks for the kind words, Steve. We certainly appreciate it. We’re going to keep working hard to bring you the best intelligent voice applications we can. A little friendly competition is good for everyone. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned – there are more updates just over the horizon…

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  • Eric Tate

    I am truly impressed. That is absolutely awesome. I had been a previous Vlingo user on other platforms that I have used but had not gotten it for Android due to two reasons: Google’s built-in voice search worked fine for me, and because of an outstanding Google Apps conflict that prevents me from being able to buy from the Market. But this new announcement has re-gained me as a user and I couldn’t be happier about that. Great job guys. Keep up the amazing work that you have provided for years.

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  • Louie

    I love Vlingo . I have ever since my Blackberry days. I just recently Purchased Vlingo for Android within the last 3 weeks. I purchased the Blackberry Vlingo aswell. I dont suppose the 9.99 Refund would be in effect would it? Even if the answer is no , i love your product , and will continue to use it , and will continue to tell my friends about it.

  • jonathan

    This is very cool.

    I like Vlingo immediately because of the way it’ll read texts to you. One cool thing I didn’t expect – if you say Twitter followed by the message you are asked to set the default app to give the message to (obviously because there are different twitter apps)…but the cool thing is if I avoid setting a default, I can click other apps to input the voice to such as 3Banana. Holding search button -> “Twitter this is my note” ->tap 3banana, tap save is faster than opening 3Banana, clicking new note, clicking the text box, clicking the virtual microphone button, speaking and then hitting save.

    Vlingo is definitely a great product. I’m going to spend more time testing it to decide but I’m impressed.

  • jmorosky

    I’m very impressed with the vlingo app and especially the small widget on my home screen. I purchased this app a few weeks ago and I’m a little disappointed that I paid 9.99 and every is now getting it for free. Again it’s a great app but It would awesome if it was free.

    • http://blog.vlingo.com TJ

      We’ve received many questions about refunds from those who paid for our Android application. In light of this, we wanted to take a moment to provide an update on our policy.

      Across many industries, pricing changes quickly in response to the competitive landscape. Vlingo is a relatively young company, and as such we do a fair bit of testing with our pricing in addition to the natural fluctuations a competitive market would normally bear. People familiar with the iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia apps, which have all been around considerably longer than Android, can attest to that. So in the same sense that if you bought our app, or a pair of shoes for that matter, the day before it went on sale or clearance, you are generally not entitled to a refund.

      We compared our policy to several well know programs, and found that there is a wide range out there today. Apple, for example, does not give refunds for any software downloads, regardless of changes to pricing or product. Android Market only has its 24 hour window, and does not mention pricing when it outlines the refund policy. Expedia also gives you only 24 hour. Best Buy and Amazon will issue a refund, but will not match pricing for any site other than their own.

      The situation with Android is quite unique, and as many of you have commented, we were faced with a limited set of options when Voice Actions launched. We feel the app was worth $9.99 when our customers purchased it, had 24 hours per Market’s rules to test it, and as such a fair transaction took place.

      All that being said, we have carefully read your comments over the last 3-4 days. We want you to know that we aren’t just talking in circles when we say we honestly value input and support from our customers. So in an effort to extend an olive branch to our paying customers, we will refund the full purchase price to anyone who opens a support ticket requesting a refund, and who purchased our Android application on or after Friday, August 6th. Even if you aren’t entitled to a full refund, we certainly hope you continue to use Vlingo. We’ll also commit to increasing the rate of innovation on our Android platform, which should only increase the value of our application.

      Again, thanks for the comments. You can contact our support here if you qualify for the refund:
      http://vlingo-en.custhelp.com/app/ask/p/180

  • Fro-yo

    Folks who just bought the app for $10 got some deal! Any chance to give them a refund?

  • cobravision

    You guys are too modest. Google Voice Search doesn’t hold a candle to Vlingo for speed, accuracy, and functionality. If Vlingo would voice confirm before dialing, it would be absolutely perfect (note that GVS doesn’t do that either). Google prefers to search the net for phone numbers instead of my contacts, which meant that I had zero success rate in making a call. Vlingo does it without breaking a sweat. Great product.

  • xdalaw

    I really like Vlingo. Like it so much I just bought it on July 27th (a couple of weeks ago) for my EVO.
    But, I must say I feel a bit frustrated that I paid almost $10.00, which is a lot for an Android app, and that I could have waited and gotten it for free a couple of weeks later. If I hadn’t already bought it I’d be cheering, but since I did, I admit I’m disappointed and a bit annoyed.

  • Stefan

    Dito…

    Bought the app a few weeks ago for 10$…

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  • Hunkah

    Wow, top notch.

    Your response to Google is inspiring! I believe in leap-frogging each other to build a better life (not just applications). Instead of throwing a tantrum, you have embraced current trends and can look forward to the future, rebuild and grow fresh ideas.

    I wouldn’t have downloaded your product before today. I am quite content “tapping away” to get things done. However, after reading what you wrote, I am going to download it, just because I was so moved by the quality of person you are!

    • http://blog.vlingo.com TJ

      Thanks, everyone, for all the support the last 24 hours. You have inspired us, as well, to continue to push out new functionality that makes your lives safer and easier when on the go. We love seeing so many people engaged in what we’re doing. We certainly hope we continue to earn you loyalty. Stay tuned – there are more great things just over the horizon.

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  • John Ohman

    While some of you have complained about paying for an app that is now free, and while TJ has artfully dodged answering questions about refunds, let me offer a slightly different viewpoint.

    When you spent your 9.99 on the app, you had the chance to get a refund if you didn’t like it. Obviously you must have liked it “$9.99 worth” because you kept it. So while it probably “feels bad” that now you could get it for free, you yourself made the value judgement that your money was well spent.

    • TS

      Sorry, I didn’t realize I could have received a refund. I would have gladly asked for one. I’m more upset that I paid $10 on software that didn’t work for me from the beginning, and now it’s being made free. Maybe Vlingo should have had a trial version…

  • TS

    Vlingo never worked properly for me on my Evo. I speak English in a very clear and precise manner, and the voice dialer always messed up when trying to call people in my contacts. I had better luck with my old PPC phone using Microsoft’s voice software. Because Vlingo never worked properly, I regretted paying $10 for it without any trial period. Now I see that it’s being made available at no cost, and now I’m even more frustrated and disappointed. I feel ripped off…

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  • Chris

    @TS

    “..I regretted paying $10 for it without any trial period.”

    If this was for your Evo, you had a full 24 hour trial period. If you uninstalled via the market within those 24 hours, you would of been given a full refund.

    If it didn’t work on your evo, you should of been able to tell well within the 24 hours. After your first several attempts, did you email the developer? The Android Market makes it easy to send an email to the developer of an application. I’m sure Vlingo would of done everything they could to help you out.

    Bottom line is, it’s a shame that it didn’t work on your device as this is a great application. The choice to go free (hopefully only temporarily as this is a great application, and runs on Android 2.1 (where as Googles application does not) and is (IMHO) worth $$ (maybe a donate version if you guys continue down the free road?)) shouldn’t make you feel like you got ripped off. For those that this application worked as described, it was worth the money. These developers deserve to get some bacon thrown their way for all their hard work on this application. The fact that they are now cutting that cash flow off entirely in order to further attract new users to try out their product is a very respectable thing IMHO.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  • Jake

    Please clarify your refund position.

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  • Arno

    Classy response.

    If it wasn’t for this I would probably have never have heard about this app. I look forward to trying it on my 2.1.

    Just thought I’d drop off kudos first.

    Thanks

  • Ivan Drago

    I am not sure if Vlingo’s response as classy or benevolent as some comments here suggest. However, it is perfectly sensical and timely move – having a $10 app compete with superior (IMO – more accurate, faster, better feature set, etc) and free alternative from Google.

    The alternative for Vlingo would be – looking ridiculous… Which is what a good number of people who purchased the app for $10 since it came out a month or so ago are likely feeling now. And it would be quite disingenuous (@Chris) to suggest otherwise and with all due respect to developers “deserving the bacon”.

    And, on the subject of bacon. There must have been some business justification in the original ridiculous pricing of this app at $10 and, hopefully, there is some business calculation in the latest move (RIM, Nokia, Samsung, do you hear Vlingo? wink-wink…)

    Perhaps, if Vlingo loves the customers so much and wants them to be loyal (which, it should be hoped, those who payed will remain after the price drop) it will be more competent with product and pricing strategy to prevent the artful dodging of pricing blunder that has just happened from happening again.

  • Avid W

    >And, on the subject of bacon. There must have been some business justification
    >in the original ridiculous pricing of this app at $10 and, hopefully, there is some
    >business calculation in the latest move (RIM, Nokia, Samsung, do you hear
    >Vlingo? wink-wink…)

    There may also be a technical reason…

    Speech recognition companies (such as Vlingo & Nuance) typically collect audio recordings in actual usage & use these data to enhance (re-train or fine-tune) their statistical speech models. Therefore, Vlingo has strong interest for users to keep using its app, so that it can continue to collect valuable live speech data.

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  • Stefan

    Plz add the posibility to change the language independently from the system!

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  • Gert

    Verry classy reaction, Vlingo! I hope this inspires some fruity companies over there ;-)
    Lots of success with your products.

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  • Tim

    How do I apply for refund? The app doesn’t work anyway. I hope the CEO makes a lot of money, buys an island, gets lost, his touch screen stops working and has to use the voice instructions to find his way back.

    What’s wrong with American corporations these days charging for stuff and then making it free, screwing their existing users? I hope someone files a civil suit against you for defrauding us.

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  • http://blog.vlingo.com TJ

    There have been some questions about how Android now being free impacts our applications on other platforms. We wanted to take a moment and address them here.

    First of all, we appreciate your support and loyalty – regardless of the type of phone you own. As I’m sure you know, developing applications for Android or iPhone or BlackBerry or Nokia is a very different process, and as such our applications have always been created and sold separately. We do our best to be fair across platforms, and although market conditions may dictate different pricing, we would never price an application higher than we thought it was worth. That doesn’t make sense for our business, or for our customers. We also hope our customers don’t forget that many features – searching the web, maps & directions, updating your social status, voice dialing and SafeReader, – are free across all platforms.

    The recent developments on Android are unique. We believe our app is worth $9.99 – in fact we believe that’s a pretty good deal. However, as you are likely now aware, Google released Voice Actions which is, in many ways, a carbon copy of Vlingo for Android. We have a couple additional features – like Twitter integration and SafeReader – but Google’s move certainly forced our hand. The only way for a small start up like ours to compete with a company like Google (which has a market cap of over $155 Bn at last check) is to compete on as level a playing field as we can. In this case, it meant dropping the price for our Android application.

    The good news is that all our platforms will benefit. Since Android is now free, we’ll use that platform to test new features, which we will in turn roll out to iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia customers. The rate of innovation should increase, and we think in the long run all our customers will see greater value out of Vlingo. In the meantime, we ask for your understanding and continued loyalty. We think we make great applications. If that ever stops being the case, we certainly hope our users let us know. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts over the last few days. We really do appreciate having such enthusiastic and engaged customers.

    • nolongervlingocustomer

      This is BS. I have purchased all of your apps for different platforms and the stance you are taking is ridiculous! The app never worked reliably on my EVO and unfortunatlely due to business constraints was not able to test it within the 24 hour period. I will never buy another Vlingo product again and will do everything in my power to tell everyone I come in contact with not to waste their time. I have already talked about 300 Blackberry users at my company to not purchase it. I hope saving the $10 is worth it for your company, because my goal is to help you lose several thousands of dollars in sales this year. Good Luck!

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  • http://www.krossover.com Manish Kakwani

    Hi, I love Vlingo. I had it on my Bberry and now on my Android phone. I also find your honesty and forthrightness commendable-your startup has at least one evangelist here. The reason I loved Vlingo on my Bberry is that it was fully integrated, as in, it had a dedicated key I could use no matter what I was doing, and because it allowed me to respond to inputs using Vlingo.

    The ideal updates to the Vlingo for Android product would be similar. An example would be allowing Vlingo access from any screen in the phone (eg, double-tapping with both fingers, or swiping in a circular motion, if that functionality were even possible). Another great update would be integration with the call log, email log, message log, and contact list. I’d be able to read a text, and respond using Vlingo by pressing an icon in the message screen rather than having to go back to the home screen and pressing the Vlingo icon.

    Please let us know if these are updates the team is working on! Good luck to you guys!

  • griz8791

    In my area $9.99 gets me a 6-pack of high-end microbrew. I got more value for that $9.99 than I would have from the microbrew, so I don’t think Vlingo was overpriced and I don’t think they owe anyone, including me, a refund.

    It works as advertised on my Droid 1. In fact, it works BETTER than advertised now that I have it triggered to run off a long-press of the search key. A couple of additional features I would like to see in future versions are

    *update Facebook status hands-free without having to go into the Facebook app or the touch.facebook.com site. I understand Vlingo does this under one or more other operating systems and would like to see it in Android as well.

    *ability to create a calendar entry hands-free. The google calendar has a simplified event-creation routine where you type your entry all on one line. The example they give on the google calendar page is “Dinner with Michael 7pm tomorrow.” One would think it would be possible to have Vlingo send that kind of simple text to the calendar app.

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  • Carlos

    Come on, be an honest CEO and make free for everyone.

  • Jon

    I do not agree with your rejection of refund requests. I’m sorry that another company put a crimp in your android revenue plans, but it is unfair to have all users who paid $10 get stuck with the bill, when the app is actually rolling out as a free app. The enticement for early adapters was to pay $9.99 in order to get the application at “half” price of the normal roll out price of $19.99. However, you never charged $19.98 for the app, which was the justification for my becoming an early adapter, ie, to get it for half of what I would have to pay if I waited. In fact, if I would have waited, I would not pay double, I would not pay anything at all. Thus, the basis of getting my early adoptor dollars was untrue. When did you ever increase the price to $20, even if Google had not rolled out their app, you didn’t fullfill your obligation to charge $20. Why didn’t you charge $20? Because you knew just like we knew, that Vlingo was not refined enough yet to charge $20. As a user, I knew right away the application was not up to par, it didn’t function right, but I didn’t request a refund because I figured it was only fair to give you time to work out the kinks since I was getting a deal at $10 less than what I would have to pay later when the app was refined. So I let Vlingo sit on my phone, without using it, and figured I would wait until you improved it enough to make it usable. In the meantime, my loyalty has proven misguided. You rejected my request for a refund.

    End of story, you have said it yourself, you are making lemon-aide out of lemons, using android users as testing grounds for all your other mobile phone apps, and so we are useful to you. There is no reason not to refund us our money for something we didn’t receive. In case you need that to be refreshed, we didn’t receive an application at half price as promised.

    Jon

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  • Ronald Fischbach

    I am pleased to see that there is competition in this area of software development. I think competition will bring out the very best. With that in mind, I have just obtained your software and would like to know how I can get it to “open” certain applications. For example, I’d like to open the map program Waze. No matter how many ways I have tried to pronounce the name of the program it does not recognize what I want the software to do. Can you assist me with this issue?
    Thanks,
    Ron Fischbach

  • mike

    Kudos to the developers on a great product! You’ll note that the applause pretty much drowns out the whiners. Keep up the great work. I paid for the app but now that it’s free I still have not one, single regret about having done so. Some of your users need to grow up.

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    This post appears to recieve a great deal of visitors. How do you advertise it? It gives a nice individual twist on things. I guess having something real or substantial to talk about is the most important thing.

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  • jvaskonen

    I just entered the world of android phone users. My phone came pre-installed with vlingo. I found out about it because I switched on the swype keyboard, which hooks into it. I used it to chat into an IRCesque program. It wasn’t perfect, but it did a pretty good job. That makes it much more useful to me than the free google alternative. And, as far as “operational” stuff, it did a pretty darn good job. I did have to take to stabs at “find accordion store”, but on the second try, it found the store I wanted it to find.

    I propose a revenue model.
    A pay pc&mac app that allow you to produce a file to train your vlingo. It would produce a datafile that could be dumped to the phone and get you what you want when you talk. (please make sure your windows app runs in wine, or it will be of no use to me as a linux user otherwise)

    Now. For the full $20 app that some of your previous customers were whining about.. I would like some cool programmer toys. Namely, programmers get to type in lots of punctuation, especially us perl programmers. I also have lots of punctuation in my passwords (hurray for strong passwords). I would like a training app that allowed me to give the input text, and read it. Like dragon back in the day, but with my text
    So I can say things like
    if openparen defined dollarsign this underscore thing closeparen openfroglips
    and get
    if ( defined $this_thing ) {

    I would totally sling you a jackson for that action.
    (but if it didn’t work with wine, I would whine and try to get my money back)

    Cheers

  • jvaskonen

    appendix to last comment: Give the early adopters who paid ten bucks the trainer app for free.

  • Jonathanpc

    Absolutely love the product and believe it is the best out there for Androids. Will it be available for tablets?

  • http://1st-gadget.com/android-2-1-features-android-2-3-features android 2.1 features

    can we upgrade from android 2.1 features to android 2.2? If can, how to upgrade from my 1st-gadget using android 2.1 features to android 2.2?
    Even it’s enough with my 1st-gadget and android 2.1 features, but if it can be upgraded, it would be nice..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HKBZS2AWRLYV5Q5UFC5PX5KW4A OldPilot

    OK.. I downloaded the app from the market and the first time I tried it with my Jawbone Icon, my Droid crashed after the call completed. The screen went black, no buttons worked, and I had to do a battery pull to get going again. Not good. Also, I got no confirmation of what contact I asked it to dial — Choice Dialer+, the app I’m currently using, confirms first.  I uninstalled Vlingo. Somebody PLEASE do an app that actually WORKS so safe driving can be conducted!

    • HolograM10

      How about not driving while messing with your phone! maybe they can make an app that turns off your phone above 15mph

  • Anonymous

    In many ways Voice Actions for Android is very similar to the Vlingo for Android product—just by pushing a widget button on the home screen you can speak to your Android phone and have Voice Actions turn your words into actions. Just like Vlingo you can speak to send a text message or an email, navigate to a business location.___________
    Mary
     Free Webcam Chat

  • sudhir babu

    ya i watched this movie the name is Rockey. good article. Thanks for remembering this information.

    Regards

    http://www.android.co.in

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  • Earl Yates

    Dear Mr. Grannan

    Your philosophy and objectives for your product have impressed me greatly.  For years I have struggled unsuccessfully with Dragon and other recognition programs, and when I read comments about Vlingo, I though I had finally found the Holy Grail. I found your App and immediately installed it on my HTC Thunderbolt. Though I still like what it can do, I have found that it adds so much of a drain on my battery that I do not like to have it there unless I have a charger with me, which is seldom the case. I use ” Advanced Task Killer”, but it will not work.  I try to uninstall it, and it will not uninstall. Could you please have you staff provide me with a means for disabling Vlingo, both temporarily and permanently. 

    Thank you and best wishes for your continued success in this important venture, I visualize many important uses for your ultimate product in military equipment and weapons.

    Respectfully,

    Earl P. Yates, Rear Admiral, USNavy (ret)
    108 88th Street
    Virginia Beach, VA 23451
     
    757-422-2392 Home
    757-635-1801 Cell
    epyates@cox.net

  • Mltomay

    Save a life or two it’s easy to install if not fully satisfied you may uninstall how you ask go to menu, settings, applications, manage applications, hit all it will bring up all your applications, go to vlingo, and uninstall you have nothing to lose but your life or someone elses. Good luck and stay safe.

  • oner

    so it works great for hands free in the car reguarding voice-to-text….however will it read the texts that come in..text-to voice aswell? if so how do you activate it

  • https://www.speechtotextservice.com speech to text

    grate post…..

  • http://cheapphones-forsale.com/iphones-for-sale/iphones-for-sale iphones for sale

    Vlingo is a great alternative to Siri I think. Ok it doesnt speak back yet, but it`s a lot cheaper to load it to your iphone 4 ratherv than buying an iphone 4s. I love it.

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