I text while driving. I also e-mail while driving. But with my jailbroken iPhone, I easily do both without taking my eyes off the road. With VoiceActivator and Vlingo, I’ve turned my iPhone into an extremely powerful dictation tool. I can send text messages and e-mails, update Facebook, and still use the built in voice commands to call people or play songs. Getting set up for dictation takes only a few minutes. Once you have both apps set up, you can use a handsfree to treat your iPhone like the computer in Star Trek and have it do all your bidding.

Installing VoiceActivator

VoiceActivator is available through the Cydia app store for $4.99. Once you’ve installed it, there will be a new menu under Settings for VoiceActivator. This is where you go to create all the commands you want. No need to do any recording. Just title the command with what you want to say, then set it to either open a webpage or launch an app. For example, in addition to the Vlingo set up, I’ve created a command to launch Pandora. This lets me use the control button on my headphones to launch Pandora while I’m walking in the cold, and I don’t even have to take off my gloves.

Setting up Vlingo

The basic version of Vlingo is completely free. However, the basic version doesn’t allow you to send e-mails or text messages. If you want to try the voice activation in general, you can try this setup with the free version and do as many web searches as you want. Or, to see Vlingo in action, check out this video.

For $6.99 you can unlock either SMS or e-mail functionality. I opted to pay $9.99 to unlock both, since I do a lot of texting and e-mailing, and I wanted to be able to dictate either.

Putting it All Together

Now that you’ve installed VoiceActivator and Vlingo, let’s get it set up to be a strong dictation tool. We’ll start with VoiceActivator. In the settings, you’ll want to create a new command. I called mine “Dictate.” Whatever you call the command is what you will say into the iPhone in order to activate Vlingo. Keep it short and to the point for the most likelihood of being recognized every time. Now set your new command to launch Vlingo.

In Vlingo, there are two settings to change. The app’s settings are in—app, and not in the iPhone settings. Just click on the wrench in the lower left—hand corner of the app to get into the settings. The important setting is “Auto-Listen” which I turned to on. What does this do? When you put the iPhone into dictation mode and launch Vlingo, it will automatically start recording. Then you just need to tap the screen when you’re finished. This eliminates having to tap the screen at the beginning.

I also turned on contact indexing. This allows Vlingo to index your contacts and makes it easier to recognize names when you say them. Some people have privacy concerns over this, but I was OK with it.

That’s it. You’re done. Once everything is set up, you will have to touch the iPhone twice to send an e-mail or SMS. Once when you’re done talking, and then again to send.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsikhnet/232409969/)

  • Jordan

    Thanks for the tip on Vlingo. I just installed it and it’s working great so far. I was using Dragon before for quick texting; this app is much better equipped.

    • I also switched from Dragon to Vlingo. The price point is somewhat frustrating, but I think well worth it.

  • For those who don’t have a jailbroken iPhone, Vlingo and Dragon Dictation are available in the iTunes store. It’s not quite as good as your setup, but it’s an option for those of us who hesitate to jailbreak their iPhone.