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Vocalia Review

Vocalia Review

Probably one of the newest features iPhone 3G customers envy in the 3GS is the handy ‘Voice Control’ recognition capabilities.

The iPhone voice recognition enables users to say “Call enter any name here” and your iPhone (hopefully) phones that person or “play all songs by Radiohead” and yes you guessed it plays all songs by… Radiohead.

Main Interface

Main Interface

Well iPhone 3G (and iPod Touch) users can now have their voice recognition cake and eat it in the form of “Vocalia 2″;. Vocalia 2 is described as a major upgrade to the previous release and at only ?2.59 from the iTunes store we decided to give it a go.

Some of the key features include :

  • Ask Vocalia to play songs from the iTunes library.
  • Import bookmarks from the Mac to the iPhone, and ask Vocalia to open them in Safari.
  • Proximity sensing improves speech recognition results in noisy environments.
  • Show help messages on almost any screen (a blue line with some voice commands you can use).

Vocalia’s user interface is clean, simple and really easy to use. Ironically a large circular eye visually represents what Vocalia is hearing and is animated like a speaker as it recognises sounds. Along the bottom of the application are three buttons ‘Contacts’, ‘iPod’ and ‘Bookmarks’ click on whatever area of your phone you want to use. As you change recognition area the colour of the circular eye also changes for easy identification.

There is nothing more frustrating that an unreliable voice recognition system and no one knows this better than those of use with non traditional accents. If Vocalia was to impress it would have to recognise an Irish accent reliably.

On startup Vocalia imports your contacts and the names of your iPod songs. Initially I tested the contact system and surprisingly the application recognised the first five names even through my accent. The more I played

I discovered recognition problems with some surnames but the more I used the application the better I became in knowing what to say to find a contact. For example it might be easier to say a forename and then select from the search results than try to get Vocalia to recognise a surname.

The same success was experienced using the iPod mode so I decided I would then compare Apple’s own Voice Control with Vocalia by asking both to play music by 1. Radiohead, 2. Crowded House and 3. Eddie Vedder. I considered Vedder to be the challenge.

Results: (green = success).
Radiohead – Voice Control : No Match Found Vocalia : Found Radiohead
CH- Voice Control : Played songs by LIVE. Vocalia : Found CH
Eddie Vedder – Voice Control : Phone XXXX XXXX Vocalia : Found Eddie Vedder

Perhaps it is my accent but I am particularly disappointed with the performance of Voice Control. The fact it will automatically phone someone when I actually want to play a song is a little too risky to chance. Vocalia impressed with finding all three artists.

Vocalia doesn’t just find the artist you have full over the navigation system. Strangely this isn’t turned on by default but if you open the Vocalia preferences you can set the navigation to ‘voice’.

The navigation system works really well, I was able to sit and completely control the music I was listening to. One thing I really like about Vocalia is the fact that it continually listens from the point the application is open. You don’t have to click a button each time you want it to listen It would be brilliant if there was a way of using vocalia even during iPod playback.


Handy Help

Handy Help

Although Vocalia can be used to access your bookmarks the application isn’t able to pull from your bookmarks in mobile Safari. Instead you have to import the sites manually.

The importing process is via a desktop application entitled “Vocalia Uploader” and the process is very simple documented here.

Vocalia offers a bit of user guidance as you use the application. If you are unsure of the various voice commands then a scrolling reminder is availably by clicking the magnifying glass on the bottom right hand side of the screen.

I really didn’t any trouble with Vocalia, it recognised my voice commands on all but one or two occasions when working with contacts.

Perhaps the only negative is the fact it can’t work directly with mobile Safari’s bookmarks but other than that Vocalia offers a fantastic, reliable voice recognition control for your iPhone (all generations) and iPod Touch.

For more information about Vocalia click here.

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