1 minute read

Microsoft has a team that developed TellMe. This is the voice functionality of Windows Phone 7. It is actually quite impressive. To activate, you just hold down the Windows logo button for a couple seconds and it will prompt. Here are the things you can say:

  • “Call contact name
  • “Call phone number
  • “Redial”
  • “Text contact name
  • “Call voicemail”
  • “Open application” Or “Start application
  • “Find search term” or “Search for search term

You can have your phone announce and read incoming text messages (Settings>Speech>Play Audio Confirmations. Then tap “Read aloud incoming text messages”). This functionality can be on all the time or only while using a Bluetooth headset.

This is all well and good, but how is the voice recognition? Poor. Based on various mod posts on MSDN, it appears that as you use TellMe, it will get better with time. But right now it is pretty frustrating. Trying to write out a text message with your voice can take 10 to 20 tries (depending on the person).

Another lacking feature is the inability for app developers to incorporate speech components and navigation into their apps. This means you can open an app with your voice, but then you have to pull out the phone to do anything further. And more importantly, you cannot write an email with it or have it read you emails! That is a huge drawback in my opinion. There are many times when I am on the road with my Bluetooth on, and I need to read or send an email, but cannot without pulling over.

If you are comparing this to Siri, don’t bother. Siri has fun features to it, this is an accessibility tool. They are definitely on the right track, it just needs to mature more. I’m surprised by the limitations of it so far considering how good speech recognition in Windows has gotten, especially in Windows 7.