Windows Phone 8 to feature developer access to Voice Command features

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 (opens in new tab) whereby you hold the Start button to access Voice Command (TellMe) and say “WPCentral, go to reviews”).

Developers can specify the commands in the app via a VCD file—so the commands aren’t completely free-flowing and users will have to know them. Still, that’s a great feature that should speed up app launching and data retrieval. Developers can even program in phrases for other languages for localization.

Finally, developers can enable speech-to-text within their app. A real world example would mean you can post comments to WPCentral by tapping the microphone in the text field and speaking your comment. You can also have the app read the article post to you in case you’re presently occupied by using the text-to-speech option:

Speech Recognition and Text-to-Speech APIs. While in the context of your application, allow users to provide input using their voice, and readout text to users via text-to-speech. Leverage cloud-based speech recognition for web search and dictation, or build more complex interactions.

Once again, this unique functionality to Windows Phone 8. While iOS and Android can use voice commands, they can’t get that specific by launching commands within the app upon launch. However, the speech-to-text feature will simply bring parity with other platforms and is a welcome, albeit late, addition to Windows Phone.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Hopefully they improve the recognition so it's not garbage.  I recently rented a car for a weekend trip (I otherwise live in the city and don't need one), so it was my first extended experience with voice text messaging, and it was a frustratingly bad waste of time.  I didn't have a single message that didn't involve three or more attempts, followed by just my giving up when it got close.  And I say a few words oddly to people in the area in which I live, but 99% of the time, I have zero accent whatsoever, so that's a problem.  On top of that, the text-to-speech voice really needs an overhaul, it's much worse than the Google Now voice and Siri.
  • using the voice recognition in a car is very difficult due to background noise, which is too bad because thats when people use it the most it seems.
  • That's funny, I've been using the voice to text feature since I had my fist fen focus and 90% of the time it was correct. I even use it via Bluetooth connection in my truck daily and it works very well.
  • I don't know about Google new voice recognition system, but Incan tell you personally the in my vehicle and outdoors siri is no where near perfect and misinterprets frequently.
  • I agree it works great with Bluetooth but if there is a lot of bgn it has a problem as is to be expected
  • You have to use it for a period of time to train it, I use it now with so much ease.
  • This is great for apps like Ask Ziggy.
  • My free white lumia 900 for at@t in the US will be for sale as soon as Nokia puts out a phone with 8 on it. This would be a very welcomed feature
  • Bring it!
  • Known this since the WP8 summitt.
  • No
  • Actually yes.
  • Go watch the video and you will hear it
  • Yes and no.
  • This
  • I just hope they improve Tell Me. I'm not saying make it like the new Google Search (although that would be welcome) but for me Tell Me isn't very accurate at times.
  • Voice to me is overrated.  Sure nice to have, but ultimately, i think will have little use in general. 
    Odds are i am not going to be walking in the mall or anywhere else and use voice commands
  • I do all the time.  I hardly ever open an app (that's not on my start page) or call my wife without using the voice.  Only when I am at work do I try to keep it quiet.  If I am out, in Target, Walmart, the Mall, I also use TellMe to call people.
  • once again, more stuff that could come to 7.8 but won't cause Microsoft is kicking us to the curb.
  • You have no idea if this or anything else that's been annouced so far is coming to WP 7.8.  Why not wait and see?
  • blah blah blah,
  • windows phone 7 is already 2 years old... why would you want to slow down the windows phone 8 development for some complainers?
    dont like it, get a new phone a new OS. I hope 7.8 will only have new start screen (just like you want,becuase you are complaining and talking crap when you dont really know what will be incluided in 7.8 besides new UI) so you will complain more and more and i will laught at idiots like you for how whiney complainer you all are.  
    but again, if you dont lke it you should just get android or iOS, noone will care about it anyway.
  • Get lost troll.
  • +1
  • I can't wait to introduce this into Pepper - 'Search Gigs London', and all done results will come back - Awesome
  • I can't wait to see Pepper launch in the US. *wink wink*
    Seriously, you're app is awesome. The US needs it. NEEDS IT! :)
  • What's pepper?
  • FYI - It is available in the US, and has been for a while now....I know this post is 2 years old, but thought I'd let you know!! :)
  • I don't normally post comments to point out spelling or grammatical errors, but you guys have been posting articles today with plenty of errors.  Haven't commented on the other Windows Phone 8 SDK articles you guys have posted today.
    Re-world example
    That should be "Real World example"
  • +1
    It's true.
  • At the rate they are putting articles out, maybe they should be cut some slack. Plus, you got the idea. ;)
  • +1
  • This was demoed in the WP summit with Audible, so not really news
  • Actually, it is. There's what regular devs have and there there's what Microsoft's "partners" have access too.. For instance, Skype got some native access where others didn't. Just because a big title app demonstrates a functionality doesn't mean regular, everyday devs get that access too.
  • I have to agree with some one here... TellMe is pretty bad for someone with a southeast asian accent.
    call home can pull out some hilarious results.. ok the first few times you have a good laugh but when you really need it to work it can get really frustrating when it doesn't give you what you want. ASK ZIGGY is just a joke. I don't know how some people swear by it. hopefully wp8 will be better at voice recognition.
  • TellMe & Ask Ziggy are a total waste of time. Results in the UK are a joke. Next to unusable. Does anyone truly use this?
  • I hope the text-to-speech API means that the Nokia Drive app will read the street names and exits to you now.
  • I hope that they do TellMe like that video Microsoft posted like 1-1/2 years ago... That would by far be better than any OS.. I have a hard time with Me now as well, it definitely needs to be updated big time!