SMARTPHONE SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Microsoft has shown off voice-to-text capabilities that will be available in its Windows Phone 7 (WP7) Mango update.
Microsoft's WP7 Mango update is set to bring a number of features and over the course of this year the firm has been trickling out information about the update that it hopes will turn WP7's fortunes around. This time Microsoft chose to show off voice-to-text features that will mean WP7 handsets will not only be able to read out text messages but also accept voice commands and transcription.
According to Microsoft's Alex Perez Avila, a member of the firm's Tellme team that develops voice recognition, the speech recognition capabilities of WP7 Mango are down to the firm's Tellme cloud rather than the handset itself. Given that the computation required for accurate voice recognition is non-trivial, it is understandable to offload processing to the cloud rather than eat up battery life. However this suggests that the service will only work when there is an adequate data connection.
Microsoft said that, aside from being able to read and take dictation of text messages, WP7 Mango will have new speech related accessibility features such as voice commands to forward calls and the ability to set up a speed-dial list. That said, back in 2000 there were phones that allowed users to attach voice identification to a particular contact allowing for voice dialing.
Microsoft claims that users will be also able to search Bing, navigate its maps service, start an application during a call and turn the speakerphone on, all through the power of voice.
Microsoft has already released Mango to device manufacturers, however there's no timeframe for when the device manufacturers and operators will push it out to WP7 users. Microsoft has said that all WP7 devices will eventually receive the Mango update, but as history has shown with Android, while all the animals might be equal, some are more equal than others.
Release dates aside, it is clear that Microsoft is trying very hard to implement features that it believes will set WP7 apart from Google's Android and Apple's IOS. Whether that will be enough to boost sales is another question, especially since the world is waiting to see what Apple does with IOS 5. µ