Yap Brings Free Voicemail Transcription to iPhone

Apple iPhone users are still waiting for an official Google Voice app, but they don’t have to wait for transcribed voicemails because Yap does that today. The free application makes it easy to read voicemails and respond to them by return call, email or text message.

Could Yap Be The Next Big Speech Recognition Player?

Microsoft today said it has tapped Yap to power its voice-to-text application for BlackBerry users on Sprint’s network. The move is something of a coming-out for the North Carolina startup, which has joined a crowded field of speech recognition software vendors.

SpinVox Nets $100M and a $500M Valuation

London startup SpinVox raised $100 million today in a round of financing that values the company at $500 million. That’s big money for a company that translates voicemails into text, but SpinVox appears to have achieved some valuable intellectual property associated with its speech-to-text software. Currently it can transcribe in French, Spanish, English and German; the funding will help it add Italian, Portuguese and Arabic to its repertoire.

The funding will also go toward expanding the infrastructure required to serve carriers who offer the service. About a dozen carriers currently offer voicemail-to-text through SpinVox, and company spokesman Jonathan Simnett says it will add a dozen more this year, including more in the U.S. The carriers currently offering the service have about 100 million subscribers between them. SpinVox has 6 million.

The whopping valuation makes a bit more sense if you consider that players ranging from Microsoft (it bought TellMe) to Nuance Communications (it’s bought a lot) are all trying to crack the speech-to-text market as a way to improve navigation and search on mobile phones. IBM and Google are also making plays in this area while startups including Jott, Yap and Vlingo have offerings as well.

Vlingo Working With Sprint, AT&T

Vlingo, a Cambridge, MA-based start-up that has developed voice-based interface for mobile phones is working with AT&T and Sprint, according to The New York Times. Both wireless carriers are testing an app called, The Find, which allows you to speak and search for local business information, songs or some web information.

I wrote about the company back in August 2007 and was quite impressed. What I like about the company (and others like it) is that we need to figure out a way to make the complicated-phones of today easier to use.

That said, Vlingo has some challenges: the market is very crowded and more players keep entering the business including some with deep pockets. For example, Nuance, the voice recognition giant, that in recent weeks has been talking up its mobile strategy.