tellme

Back in March, upcoming changes to the backend of Bing and its voice capabilities (aka TellMe) were revealed with the promise that those improvements were coming to all Windows Phones. Those changes included significantly faster searches, more accurate transcription and improved accuracy in noisy environments.

Microsoft has just let it out that these changes are now official. That means if you pick up your Windows Phone right now and try to transcribe a text message or do a voice Bing Search, you should noticed the improvements. As these updates come from Microsoft’s servers, there is no OS update needed.

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If you use Windows Phone, 7 or 8, you probably know that holding down the Start button will bring up TellMe, the native voice command service from Microsoft. You can use it to launch app, write an SMS message, etc.

For Windows Phone 8 users though, you get the added bonus that apps optimized for the new OS can also take advantage of TellMe, allowing you quickly open an app and then go to a specific section, for instance.

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If it’s one thing people with smartphones like to know it’s the battery level. Double so if you’re the OCD type. Windows Phone 8 makes knowing such information a smidgen easier by displaying it under Settings without having to tap into the menu, but people still want more options.

The new (and oddly named) Windows Phone 8 app Battery Monitor with Voice Control just hit the Store and as you can probably tell from the title, it adds a new feature via speech...

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Windows Phone 8 brings numerous enhancements to the TellMe service aka the speech engine behind Windows Phone. One area that has improved is voice dictation for email messages (as opposed to just text) and developers can also now incorporate STT/TTS into their apps directly, which is especially useful for things like Twitter or blogging apps.

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For a long time, Windows Phone users have speculated about the possibility of a Tablet based on the OS. It never happened, but even now, I’m left wondering if Windows Phone is the more capable and desirable portable computing experience.

Microsoft are on the cusp of releasing Windows 8 and with it we see the software giant plunging head first into the world of true mobile computing. They have dug in deep and hammered away at the core of Windows to enable new, mobile orientated computing experiences. At the same time we also have Windows Phone 8 getting ready for primetime. Windows Phone is now reaching its first major upgrade, and it's about to fully mature.

Given the right form factor it's an OS that could work better as a tablet than Windows 8, and here is why...

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In what should be a very exciting addition for developers, Windows Phone 8 will finally give access to Voice Command (aka TellMe).

According to the leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK, developers can add functions to their app that uses the Voice Command feature, enabling customers to launch the app with a sub-query which will take them to a specific area of the app:

"Users can use voice commands to both launch your app and execute an action. For example, a user using the Contoso Widgets app could press the Start button and say "Contoso Widgets, show best sellers" to both launch the Contoso Widgets app and navigate to a 'best sellers' page, or some other action that the developer specifies."

(An example of this would be Jay Bennett adding a feature to our WPCentral app whereby you hold the Start button to access Voice Command (TellMe) and say “WPCentral, go to reviews”).

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Microsoft yesterday announced commercial availability of their Microsoft Translator Hub. The service has been designed to allow developers and business to deliver tailored, real-time translation in up to 39 languages.  The real-time translation is available as an Azure Marketplace application, enabling users to leverage the Microsoft Cloud to deliver more relevant machine translation applications to their customers.

The applications vary for this service but as an example, it will allow for fluid, real time translation of live web chat interactions from customer services representatives. It goes beyond plain machine translation by allowing the output to be fully optimised for that particular application. A private set of data can be uploaded and using the Translator’s machine learning training system, output can then be tailored as required. Manipulating the output could allow exclusion of business specific nomenclature such as names of products or abbreviations. These customised translation scenarios can then be tested deployed so that they suit each application for which they are targeted. Once the solution is deployed, it can accessed through the familiar Microsoft Translator Service API, all the time being kept private or shared, depending on what you require.

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Microsoft is set to close down the Bing 411 service on June 1st, 2012. Bing 411 is a toll-free number for American residents that enables callers to search using voice and Tellme technologies. The free service provides users with local business search, weather and traffic reports, driving directions, sports scores, and stock quotes to name but a few.

Should you attempt to use Bing 411 (1-800-246-4411) you'll be greeted by a message stating the service will cease operations on the provided date. This follows the closure of Google's GOOG-411 back in October, 2010. With Bing services integrating into Windows Phone, will we miss the Bing 411 service? 

Source: LiveSide

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Have you been able to use voice-to-text or voice search with Bing on your Windows Phone?  If you're having problems you are not alone.  We've been getting several tips that readers are having difficulty using these services today.

There's even a discussion going on over at Microsoft Answers on this (with no answers as of yet). We've also got our own forums discussion started by Bjfcm who has been having problems with voice services for some time now.  Based on the comments in both discussions, the problem appears to be more common in Ohio and Pennsylvania markets.

We've polled our staff and so far we aren't experiencing any issues. So what say ye?

If you're having similar issues with voice commands on your Windows Phone, let us know in the comments.

Thanks everyone for tipping us on this!

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In addition to the basic functions of TellMe for Windows Phone 7, including make a call, do a search and launch a program, evidently you can also command the device to play music, much like our current phones.

MobilitySite published a list of the commands themselves, which should be familiar enough to any long time VoiceCommand user. The Zune command is in the following format:

“Play ” where the category will be artist, album, song, etc and the item will be an item of the category you listed. i.e. “Play Artist U2”.

So that's some good news even though many of you have expected that feature to be there anyways.  In addition, since TellMe is primarily a cloud-based system, we expect the TellMe function to grow and expand with future updates to the OS, enabling a host of other features. On launch, we'll settle for the basics we suppose.

Now f I could only muster the confidence to blurt out "Play Lady Gaga Poker Face" in public, I'll be all set. 

[via WMPU]

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It's not really news when Microsoft says they think their technology can take on or beat Android or the iPhone--it's the same PR spin you'd expect from any company that is about to enter some heavy competition. So it's a bit odd that this story is getting so much clout, but he were go...

Microsoft bought TellMe a few years ago (2007), it first showed up on the Samsung Intrepid and will now finally get robust integration with Windows Phone 7, as was recently demonstrated here in video.

Overall it's quite nice, but dare we say in its current form, hardly revolutionary.  In fact, Android's voice control is leaps and bounds beyond what WP7 will be able to do when finally launched e.g. 'Edwin' is pretty ridiculous (see a YouTube demonstration and witness the power of this completely free app). 'Edwin' is so far ahead right now, we're not sure how TellMe is going to catch up, but hey, we're all for a good race.

Recently, TellMe and Windows Phone 7 were demoed and discussed at the SpeechTEK conference. There, MS boasted how TellMe is the largest speech-based natural language processing system in use today. But really, the big news is that Microsoft is planning to really leverage TellMe in Windows Phone 7, expanding its capabilities significantly...over time. For at launch, it will only do some basic things (dial contacts, launch apps and search Bing), but it will go "global" on the phone in the future, allowing widespread control of just about everything.

It's nice to see Microsoft taking voice-control seriously--after all, they did buy a whole company for the tech.

Finally, the last bit of juicy info was talking about Xbox and Kinect, which you can interpret how you want (to us, it sounds like these ideas, remember that rumor?):

"Speech is the core of NUI," he said. Part of the demonstration showed how Microsoft's Kinnect XBox technology could interpret hand gestures to trigger actions on the computer. This technology will be used in Microsoft products beyond the XBox, Bukshteyn said in a subsequent interview with IDG.

Let's hope it means what we think it means.

[via PCWorld]

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We know Microsoft and TellMe (who Microsoft bought) worked close together on the Samsung Intrepid (awful phone, neat service), but nothing else ever came out from it.

We also know Windows Phone 7 will have some type of voice control (see Dieter hilariously try to activate it back in February) and low and behold, Microsoft has recently demoed it for it us.

The good:

  • Voice dialing
  • Voice search
  • Voice launch of programs

The bad--no voice control for:

  • Reminders
  • Playing music
  • Announcing calls

At least we presume those 'bads' are the case as we don't have 100% confirmation either way yet. Even with the limitations, we like the speed and execution of the voice search feature and can't wait to try it ourselves.

Watch the full video after the break!

[Thanks Tim F. for originally finding this]

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Most of us running Windows Mobile 6.5 have been more than a bit disappointed that Microsoft'S TellMe service has been omitted from the OS, unless you're using a Sprint Samsung Intrepid.

Of course, it only was a matter of time before TellMe was stripped from the Intrepid ROM by pixelwix at PPCGeeks and set free for all to enjoy. That said, things are a bit buggy, as this is far from an official release. Touchscreen functions are missing. Some users say they can't even get it to load. So ymmv. And it looks like you need to have .netCF 3.5 installed first.

So if you're in the impatient type, hit up the link below and give it a go.

PPCGeeks via pocketnow

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We're still not entirely sold on the whole voice command thing when it comes to mobile phones (though admittedly it's very helpful while driving). But you've gotta admit Microsoft's Tellme service (whose purchase allowed Windows Mobile to put the old Voice Command out to pasture) looks pretty compelling. Sure, it's a few extra steps to do basic functions, so it's probably not something we'd use while walking down the street. But it absolutely would be handy in a car, and you have to admit the speech-to-text is pretty cool.

Bing blog

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Voice Command is one of those core features of Windows Mobile that's great to have, but it never has been quite easy enough to be a daily necessity for a lot folks. That all may be about to change with Tellme, which Microsoft bought a couple of years ago. It takes the versatility of Voice Command, sexes it up and puts it at the center of your user experience.

And it's coming to Windows Mobile 6.5, says Gizmodo.

Our Crackberry friends have had access to Tellme for a while now (as have owners of the Sprint Instinct). But starting with WM6.5, we'll have one-button access to phone dialing, text messages, Live Search, the works, and it'll be an integral part of the OS, it seems. (If it can do voice to text, that would be epic.) CNet notes that Tellme will take advantage of GPS and cell towers to localize searches.

Giz says Tellme will be free when Windows Mobile 6.5 launches, either from the Marketplace, or it'll be built in to the OS.

Check out the whole kit and kaboodle and be sure to hit up the promotional video.

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Microsoft to Purchase Tellme

It looks like future versions of Voice Command on WM are going to be a whole lot smarter after this acquisition. Tellme Networks does voice recognition and has also been running the voice search service at 1-800-555-TELL (8355). A quick check of the service just now tells me (cough) that Tellme seems to do a better job at voice prompt recognition than most of those annoying call centers I have to use (How many times have you said "Operator. Operator! Shut up and let me talk to a human!"?).

Microsoft Corp. today announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search.

Read: Microsoft to Acquire Tellme - via Backstage at MED

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