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Vlingo voice search comes to Android phones

Vlingo's voice search app has had a strong presence on BlackBerry and iPhone. Now it's laying claim to Android phones, too.

In addition to the Vlingo voice app is the Vlingo start screen widget. Vlingo

Vlingo's voice search app has long had a strong presence on BlackBerry and iPhone. Now it's laying claim to Android phones, too.

While many smartphones have some measure of voice commands baked in, Vlingo's premium offering ($9.99) adds the capability to launch apps, update your Twitter status, and send e-mail and text messages when you bark orders at it. (We'd love to see voice commands for playing music and taking photo and video, too.)

Vlingo will also dial your contacts, plumb Google Maps, and search Google or Yahoo. We should mention that there is a short learning curve in picking up the right voice triggers to get Vlingo to search and perform tasks.

One of the more compelling reasons for frequent drivers to purchase Vlingo is the app's capability to read you text messages and e-mails through SafeReader, a feature that the company introduced in March at CTIA. However, if your phone already comes with visual voice mail, SafeReader may be icing on the Vlingo cake for some, but not reason enough to purchase the app.

More importantly, while Vlingo has much to offer in theory, its software missed a number of our commands from both the app interface and from the widget. Sometimes it recorded voice, then stopped without acting. Other times it launched a Google search when it should have opened an Android app.

While Vlingo may pick up on the timbre or cadence of some voices more efficiently than others, we did expect a higher number of accurate results, especially when we spoke slowly, deliberately, and directly into the microphone.

In light of the errors we encountered in our tests, we'd prefer to see Vlingo adopt a freemium price structure for Android the way it did for other mobile platforms so that users could match their voice to Vlingo's sensitivity before committing to a purchase.