Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Craig Mundie, has been discussing Apple’s Siri software versus Microsoft’s own TellMe service.
Mundie sat down with Eric Savitz from Forbes to discuss Kinect and Siri recently. “You could argue that Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows Phones for more than a year,” said Mundie about Apple’s Siri voice recognition software. Microsoft’s TellMe service is baked into Windows Phone 7 and the latest “Mango” update includes a number of new features.
The improvements have been largely over looked in Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 update, thanks to the large number of new features elsewhere in the operating system. With the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple brings a powerful new natural voice interaction to mobile devices. Microsoft’s Tellme technology is more of a command driven feature of Windows Phone right now but the company has plans to improve this in future. “We probably could learn something on the marketing side,” said Mundie referring to Apple’s marketing efforts with Siri. ”Many people were disappointed with the new phone because it wasn’t a completely new thing, so the only thing they really had to hammer on was that feature. Maybe we need to pick a feature and hammer on it harder,” he added.
Microsoft’s future Tellme speech recognition is a lot more personal and more aligned with Apple’s Siri features. Microsoft demonstrated some of its future speech recognition in Windows Phone in August. A video demonstration (YouTube) shows off a much improved speech interface that will work across devices. The current implementation in Windows Phone 7.5 is basic in comparison to Siri’s artificial intelligence but it matches Apple’s features in some key scenarios. The ability to dictate SMS messages and reply with your voice is important at times when using your hands isn’t an option, driving a car for example. Microsoft also added, with Windows Phone 7.5, the ability to make calls by name or nickname, redialing a number, calling voicemail, searching Bing, turning on the speakerphone, starting an app during a call and navigating maps.