Vlingo is a new mobile voice service launching today. It centers around a small Java app that lets you talk into your handset to create a text message instead of using your phone's keypad. The service is its own SMS client, piggybacking off your phone to send the message, although it forgoes using your phone's native SMS app, or word dictionary. In addition to texting, Vlingo is launching with voice to text services for mobile music stores and mapping services. The maps come courtesy of Yahoo, and can be zoomed and navigated just like accessing the mobile version from your phone. Since it's voice to text, you can simply say the location, without having to juggle back and forth between numbers and letters to combine street names and zip codes.
The service is also launching with a business finder that lets you search for establishments by name, region, or genre. The draw, however, is its integration with Sprint's music store, which lets you say the name of an artist or a song name (or both) and get hooked up with a live preview and options to purchase the track right on your handset. Short of some of the lyric identification and humming services we've checked out, this is a very handy feature if you hear a song on the radio and want to grab it right on the spot.
Other services that offer similar or competitive featuresets include TellMe's standalone mobile phone app for Sprint and AT&T handsets, along with VoiceSignal's suite of voice recognition apps that have made their way into mass market handsets like Samsung's popular P207. Vlingo is free if you're using one of the dozen or so supported Sprint handsets, but uses data to access services and translate speech.
To see a demo of the technology in use, click here.