Microsoft Impresses -- Really -- with TellMe Voice Text and Search

All right, Microsoft, 'fess up: How many takes did you need for your video of Samsung Intrepid's TellMe feature, which sends text messages and searches the Web by voice, to go smoothly?

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Because honestly, it's a pretty impressive feature. One that, given some of the things we've heard about Windows Mobile 6.5 in general, is particularly worthy of praise.

See, voice dialing has never really excited me. It's useful for those occasions when your hands are busy, but anyone comfortable with their phone can generally get to a number easily with buttons. Using voice to replace typing, however, can be more convenient in more scenarios.

Here's how it works: The Sprint Intrepid has a dedicated button for the TellMe feature. Press it, and you can start a text message by saying "text" and the contact's name. Then, you can just dictate your message, and the phone will transcribe it. You are, o

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f course, able to check it before sending the message. The search function is even easier, as you can just say what you're looking for, and in one step the phone initiates a Bing search.

I'm aware that the Google Mobile app for Blackberry, Android, and the iPhone also lets you search the Web by voice (and it's fairly accurate, too), but the difference with the Intrepid is hardware. Even on the iPhone, you've still got to slide out of the phone's lock system or get out of whatever app you're using, find the Google Mobile app, and then lift the phone to your ear to start a voice search.

By fusing TellMe's voice features to a dedicated button on the hardware, Microsoft and Samsung make texting and searching much easier. Indeed, I'd like to see other phone-makers (ahem, Apple) extend their phones' voice dialers to include these functions.

Wait, did I just say other tech companies should copy Microsoft? I must be in the Bizarro world.

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