If you have an iPhone 4S, you have the best way to search the web with your voice. Ask Siri, she finds what you want. (Most of the time.) If you’re using an iPhone 4 or earlier, Siri isn’t an option. “Vocal Search” from AppSimo makes a valiant attempt to fill the gap for those users, and in most cases, it succeeds.
Vocal Search allows you to search multiple search engines using your voice as input, simply speak your search terms and the app will simultaneously search Google, (or Yahoo! or Bing, you make that choice in the settings,) Flickr, Dailymotion, Twitter search, and Wikipedia. Results are displayed in what AppSimo calls the “Vocal Search Carousel”. Once the initial search results appear, you can swipe through the services list, and select a set of results form another service by simply tapping the name of the service.
Vocal Search also allows you to search in 22 languages, navigate the built in browser by way of multi touch gestures, and the programmer claims you can share your results by email or Twitter.
Upon trying my first search with Vocal Search I was startled by the bell tone that signals the app is preparing to receive your voice input, after a few searches I grew to expect the tone, which sounds both before and after your search is entered.
One thing I did take awhile to grow comfortable with is the delay between when I pushed the “Tap and Talk” button, and when the recording indicator appeared to let me know I could speak my search terms. On Wi-Fi, the delay was approximately 2 seconds, while on 3G, it was a little over 3 seconds. The delay appears to be caused by the app contacting its servers to prepare for the search. While comparatively Siri is usually ready in under a second, the interval experienced in the Vocal Search app wasn’t a deal killer.
In most cases the app understood my voice accurately. In a few cases it did require correction, such as when I wanted to search for “Yale University”, and the app understood it as “Ale University”, and “Yell University”. The app does allow keyboard entry, so in cases such as this, the search is easily corrected.
I found the Vocal Search app to be a useful utility for hands-free search. While it’s not quite as snappy as Siri, it does offer a reasonably priced and efficient alternative for non iPhone 4S users.
The multi touch gestures for navigating through the apps screens were easy to use, and made sense when using them. Search results are fed to the user from multiple search engines, giving the user multiple sources of information to draw from.
Users for whom Siri is not an option would be well advised to check out Vocal Search, it’s well worth the $0.99 price to check it out, and could just fill the gap left by your devices lack of Siri-ness.
Vocal Search was reviewed on the iPhone, it also works on the iPad.
Vocal Search is available in the App Store. ($0.99 App Store Link)
- Easy to use, voice entry is smooth in most cases.
- The Vocal Search Carousel worked nicely for presenting results from the various search engines.
- The search results were presented quickly.
- While the app is said to allow emailing of search results, I only found an option to share information about the app via email.
- The 2-3 second delay while the app prepares for voice input could be a little frustrating during a busy period.