Software similar to the highly touted Siri voice recognition program featured in the iPhone 4S has been available in Windows-branded phones for more than a year, and is only being heavily promoted by Apple due to an alleged lack of other features in the company’s new smartphone, one Microsoft executive said during an interview last week.
In comments made to Eric Savitz of Forbes at the Techonomy Conference in Tuscon, Arizona, Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie pointed out that a similar system, in the form of a TellMe app, has been part of the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant’s Windows 7 Phone “for more than a year.”
Mundie added that people were “infatuated… with Apple announcing it,” and while he admitted that it was “good marketing,” he said that Windows-branded smartphones have had the capability to issue a verbal command to write a text message to someone, then dictate what you want the message to say, or conduct a search through the company’s Bing search engine using only your voice, since the Windows 7 Phone was initially released in the second half of 2011.
“Mundie is right, and Microsoft has won praise for the latest advances in its mobile voice recognition,” Todd Bishop of Geekwire said in a story Friday. “But does Windows Phone really live up to what Apple is doing with Siri? Based on my own experience, at least, Apple seems to be closer to the goal of offering an intelligent assistant, not just a voice interface, with a wider array of applications and the use of location awareness to make Siri smarter.”
According to Chloe Albanesius of PCMag, Microsoft acquired TellMe in early 2007. The company then announced their first app, a downloadable program which allowed users to dictate text messages, search the World Wide Web, or place a phone call simply by speaking, for Windows Mobile in April of 2009. Albanesius added that Mundie believes the strong focus on Siri was due to a lack of other features with the most recent model of iPhone.
“In a sense, many people were disappointed with the newest (Apple) phone because it wasn’t a completely new thing, so the only thing they really had to hammer on was that feature,” Mundie told Savitz, according to Bishop. “Maybe we need to pick a feature and hammer on it harder.”
The Microsoft executive also claimed that the demise of the Windows 7 line of phones had been grossly exaggerated, especially in the light of recently formed partnerships with other firms.
“At the point Windows 7 Phones were being introduced many people wanted to write the company off as not a survivor in the phone segment,” he said. “In a sense we’ve had to overcome our errors in the transition from the old phone model to the new phone model. Hopefully now that people are giving us some credit for the quality of the execution on the phone itself — Nokia has come on line now, that’s a huge thing. HTC and others.”