Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation (UCIC), developer of the Ubi voice-controlled computer, announced a new dual-purpose messaging app for iOS and Android devices today.

Talk to the UbiSpeak app and it will generate both a voice message and a text message. If your recipient also has the app, they'll get both versions instantly. If they don't, they'll get a standard text message along with a link that lets them listen to the voice version. The link also opens a text box that they can use to reply to the message, which you can opt to have the app read to you out loud.

While iOS and Android already offer speech-to-text message creation, UbiSpeak offers greater speed and reliability, according to UCIC cofounder Leor Grebler. "In our experience," says Grebler, "[UbiSpeak is] a lot faster than sending a text message." In addition, having the voice message available can lend context to your message, an element all too lacking in conventional text messages.

"Even if the transcription screws up," he says, "there's a backup. That gives a lot more confidence when you're sending a quick message."

When you install the app, it automatically populates its contact list with the people you text with the most. (You can also, of course, add contacts manually.) After that, you just push the app's button to create a message.

You can designate some contacts as VIPs and set their messages to play automatically, even if your phone's screen is locked. You can also reply immediately by speaking your response.

The story behind the story: UCIC is the creator of the voice-controlled Ubi smart device, and UbiSpeak reflects the company's experience with the "millions of interactions" consumers have had with that product, according to Grebler. (UbiSpeak also lets you send messages or commands to the Ubi.) "We're learning how people are using the Ubi," he continues. "We're looking at the ways people are using voice today to interact with other people and things, and asking how we can enhance that."