Google's launch of Voice Actions for Android forced rival Vlingo to make its comparable voice command application free for users.
On Aug. 12, Google launched Voice Actions for Android, a voice-based technology that lets users speak specific commands into their Android smartphones.
Users install a widget onto their home screen. When they tap it, they can say, "Send text" to start speaking a text message they wish to deliver, or say "Call" to trigger the phone's dialer.
As with many Google applications upon launch, Voice Actions for Android is biased toward the latest version of the operating system, which is Android 2.2.
Vlingo for Android provides similar technology, including a SuperDialer for quick calling, texting and local business search, for smartphones based on Android 2.0 and later. Until Aug. 12, Vlingo for Android cost $9.99 for users to download.
The arrival of Voice Actions for Android spurred Vlingo into making its app free, according to Dave Grannan, Vlingo president and CEO, who was effusive in his praise for Google's work on the app.
"After playing with it for the last hour on our Sprint Evo running Froyo, our conclusion is: Awesome Product," Grannan wrote.
"The app is snappy [and] 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. We love to see someone of Google's stature validating this market."
Grannan is being very gracious considering that Google Voice Actions for Android is a formidable competitor that could make the Vlingo for Android app obsolete.
Providing Vlingo for Android cost-free should help in that respect. There are other differences that could ensure the viability of Vlingo for Android going forward.
Voice Actions for Android leverages Google Web services, while Vlingo also integrates Facebook and Twitter content. Of course, Vlingo for Android also covers more devices because its support starts at Android 2.0 and works up.
Google will likely do its backward-compatibility thing and support Android 2.1 and Android 2.0 over time, even though most devices that began supporting those OS versions are being upgraded to Android 2.2.
This includes the original Motorola Droid, HTC Evo 4G, HTC Droid Incredible and the Motorola Droid X.
Motorola's Droid 2, which launched into the market the same day Google made Voice Actions for Android available, supports Android 2.2 out of the box.
Grannan's assessment of Voice Actions for Android is accurate. The app performed well in limited tests by eWEEK on the Droid 2.
As for Vlingo, while momentum for its Android app may be curbed by Google's entry into this voice-command market, the company should be okay because its software is also available on Apple iPhone, RIM BlackBerry, Nokia Series 60 and Windows Mobile.