Voice search on mobile phones is increasingly becoming a viable alternative to pecking away on your tiny, touchscreen keyboard. Google has great voice search in both its iPhone and Android apps. Apple just bought Siri, which is a voice-powered personal search assistant. And then there is Vlingo, a Cambridge, Mass.-based voice search company backed by Charles River Ventures and Yahoo.
Today, Vlingo is launching a new Android app called SuperDialer. “Think of it as your infinite address book in the cloud,” says CEO Dave Gannon. It is essentially a voice-powered directory that returns local business search results instead of having to dial 411. If you say “pizza,” it will return the nearest pizza places based on your location. For each listing, you can call, see it on a map, get directions, or read reviews.
Vlingo’s voice apps have been downloaded more than 5 million times already, mostly on BlackBerry, but its iPhone app is even more popular than Siri’s (it is ranked No. 36 in productivity, versus No. 39 for Siri). The apps let you search the Web by speaking, voice dial, or speak a Twitter or Facebook status update. If you want to be able to dictate text messages or email using its speech-to-text technology, you have to pay $10 to $20. Gannon says Vlingo gets an 8 percent conversion rate of free to paid subscribers. But with SuperDialer, it will also make money off sponsored search results.