I’ve been using Windows 8 on my Surface RT and a non-touch desktop since its release. Overall I’m extremely happy with it. I’ve also been using both Windows Phone 7 and 8 since their respective releases. What I find most interesting using these two new beautiful OS’s is that base Windows Phone experience is a more mature one than the base experience of Windows 8 as it stands right now.
The deficiencies of Windows 8 when compared to Windows Phone are minimal for the most part except in two areas, XBOX Music and Tell ME.
I’ll cover the minor annoyances and XBOX music in separate posts, this post will focus specifically on the lack of Tell ME / voice interaction in Windows 8.
Tell ME, is the service behind the voice interactions on Windows Phone and Ford Sync (I believe). On Windows Phone 7 you could dictate text messages, perform Bing searches, start applications and initiate calls all by pressing and holding the Windows button on your device. On Windows Phone8 the service is even more pervasive. Applications can, and thankfully many have, use the Tell ME service to control parts of the application with your voice both from within the app and from the Start screen. For example Gleek, a twitter app, allows you to initiate retweets, new tweets and other features from within the app. Audible, the popular Audiobook application, allows you to open your library and control the playing of books from the start screen or within the app. Both of these and many other applications have many more voice features. It’s been great to see how many apps are taking advantage of this feature. Prior to the launch of Windows 8 I realized there was no mention of Tell Me integration in Windows 8. Since I’ve been using the new OS I’ve found myself pressing and holding the Windows button on my Surface more than once trying to launch an application rather than going through search in the charms and always find myself a bit disappointed. I have many apps on my Surface having the 64 GB version and although I have my start screen organized in groups I do sometime find myself swiping back and forth overlooking the application’s tile I am looking for.
So besides application launching how else could Tell ME be utilized? Well I think it should be utilized and available in all ways it is on Windows Phone. This includes searching, opening apps, messaging and being open to developers to be utilized within their own apps. There shouldn’t be any technical limitations because of hardware except where a device may not be connected to the internet, but Microsoft has already figured out how to handle that on Windows phone.
I really hope Microsoft has plans to implement this feature in Windows 8/ RT. I am always slightly jealous when I see that little blond girl cutely ask, “Google, how far is the earth to the moon.” Hopefully, we won’t have to wait much longer till I can capture a video of my young niece asking my surface the same question.