How to get Android voice control without Froyo

Google's newly debuted Voice Actions for Android is generating a lot of buzz in the smartphone realm right now. The app lets you do everything from sending text messages to loading Web pages, all by pressing a single button and speaking your commands.

The downside to Google's Voice Actions, though, is that it's limited only to phones running Android 2.2. At the moment, that means the HTC EVO 4G, the Motorola Droid 2, and the original Motorola Droid. So what about everyone else?

Some good news: For the majority of Android devices, there is an alternative. Google's Voice Actions for Android is actually eerily similar to a third-party program that's been available in the Android Market for some time.

Voice Actions Without Froyo

The app is called Vlingo, and it does almost everything Voice Actions can do. Vlingo sends texts and e-mails, dials contacts, looks up and dials businesses, searches the Web, and pulls up maps based on voice-issued commands. It doesn't have Voice Actions' music-loading or Web-page-opening features, nor does it have the "note to self" option -- but it does have a few things Voice Actions doesn't:

  • Tweet composing: You can say "Twitter" and then speak the text of a tweet, and Vlingo will transcribe it and send it out for you.
  • App opening: Vlingo's "open" command allows you to activate native Android apps via voice command.
  • Built-in text-to-speech service: Vlingo includes a function called SafeReader that, when activated, will automatically read any incoming texts or e-mails to you aloud. It's there with driving in mind, though it also works quite well for annoying co-workers.
Vlingo Barcode

Like Voice Actions, Vlingo functions off of your phone's "Search" button, making access quick and painless. You can find the program in the Android Market; it requires only Android 2.0 to operate. It's currently available for $9.99.  UPDATE: Vlingo has just informed us it's offering its app free of charge, effective immediately.

This story is from the new Android Power blog at Computerworld. Follow @AndroidPower on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.

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