vocaliconWhen the original iPhone was released, it had no third-party apps, no voice control, no games, and no to-do list -- among many other things. But it was still revolutionary, completely different than what came before, and over time many of its shortcomings were addressed by hardware and software updates.

The same is true of Siri now. It has very little in the way of third-party integration, and there are many things that it cannot do -- but there is much promise. One piece of evidence to this future potential is Vocal, a new app that allows voice control of a Mac from a Siri-equipped iPhone 4S.

Vocal works by pairing a free application that installs on the Mac with a $1.99 app that is downloaded from the App Store. It allows the user to send commands and dictate text straight to the Mac, using the voice recognition feature on the iPhone 4S.

Lex Friedman at Macworld used his copy of Vocal to "control iTunes; send emails and tweets; look up definitions; select, copy, and paste text; search Amazon and Google; print; and create new documents." He reports that some commands are more successful than others, but on the whole:

Vocal is definitely cool. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper way to get your Mac to take dictation. Its support for other actions is a mixed bag; some work well, some don’t. If nothing else, Vocal proves that Siri—natively—on the Mac could be nothing short of remarkable.


The app updates its library of commands over the air, making updates and new feature additions easy for Vocal's creator, Matthew Roberts. He explained the thinking behind the software to The Next Web:

Vocal came essentially from playing with Siri on my new 4S as a sort of “novelty” as I just acquired the device, and since I use my Mac so much I wanted to see if I could write a Siri-like app for it. After looking around the only main competitor was the software from Nuance, but it was over 1GB to download and cost upwards of $50. Considering the 4S can already dictate text, I thought I could make a super simple app “for the masses”, I guess you could say.

Vocal is available for the iPhone 4S on the App Store for $1.99 [Direct Link] and the free companion app for the Mac is available directly from Vocal's website.

Top Rated Comments

Nobita Avatar
164 months ago
Wow, this is really slick. It won't be long until you can say: "Send this excel file to my boss and protect it with his public key".
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tarasis Avatar
164 months ago
inb4 it's removed because it hurts the sales of Nuances non-free products available for Mac.
Ah misread - thought you where referring to a user "inb4" as opposed to short cutting the English.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jclardy Avatar
164 months ago
Even if you did have a lot of time, why would you want to go through all of this?

I'll be waiting for Apple's implementation of Siri on the mac. This is cool, but it needs to be integrated deeper into the OS to become more useful.

As a developer it will be nice to be able to be typing code and say, "Siri, look up the documentation for this class" and have it find it for me without me having to move my hands from the keyboard. Also for issue tracking, being able to say something like, "Siri, add a new issue to my current project named ..." and have it create a new issue on GitHub or whatever you use. By doing it off the top of your head you don't lose your train of thought as you open a browser, navigate to the project, open the issue tracker and type out the issue. Also it would be great for commenting code as you are typing it.

Of course this will take a lot of third party integration but it will be there one day soon.

Rather than having my voice commands being the primary interface, I would want it to be in the background, doing the menial tasks that would otherwise distract from the task at hand.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MarkMS Avatar
164 months ago
Now I need to upgrade to a 4S! Damn, this would go nicely with my Mac Mini HTPC. I would use it to download files, play music or whatever without having to turn on my TV. Then when I want to watch something, just tell it to open up Safari for Hulu or Netflix.

Search American Dad on Netflix, play Season 2 Episode 5. *drool
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Keebler Avatar
164 months ago
worth the $2!

even if you just use this to dictate text to emails or docs, it's worth the $2.

I've been looking for this functionality.

Sure, it's not perfect, but give it time.

A solid 1st time go around however!

Great app!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tarasis Avatar
164 months ago
That looks surprisingly neat and for $2 hard to resist trying out.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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