Just last week Microsoft officially signed off the release to manufacturing (RTM) build of Windows Phone 7 Mango, the latest update of the mobile platform. Along with its update comes the new voice-to-text capabilities, a feature similar to Android’s Voice Actions.
It is interesting to note that the voice-to-text feature is hosted in the cloud rather than the device itself.
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.
WP7′s voice-to-text option allows users to use their voice in searching Bing, navigating maps, starting an application in the middle of a call, and turning on the speakerphone.
With the announcement of this new feature, Microsoft is clearly trying very hard to keep up with the other mobile operating systems lead by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. What Microsoft is not trying to create though, are the mistakes made by Google and Apple, by promising that Windows-based devices will be very difficult to track.
With a broad portfolio of devices and services, Microsoft has a few other notable updates this week. Microsoft announced the released of .NET Gadgeteer, a kit composed of pre-assembled parts that hackers can use to build hardware and software. The included framework uses hardware programming that is compatible with Microsoft Visual Studio.
And despite rumors of Microsoft’s Zune getting canned, a small batch of new apps has surfaced in the Zune marketplace. The apps includes a calendar and eight games: Finger Paint, Trash Throw, Slider Puzzle, ColorSpill, Splatter Bug, Vine Climb, Decoder Ring, and Tug-O-War. Also, four existing apps in the marketplace (i.e. Email, Echoes, Zune Reader, and Penalty! Flick Soccer) received new updates.
Dave McLauchlan, Senior Business Development Manager for Zune, said that Microsoft was “completely frank about this year’s Zune hardware being the WP7 phones, and we continue to both sell and fully support the Zune HD line of products.
“And as I’ve promised–we continue to bring new apps and games to the platform. More of those are in the works, I promise you.”