Speech recognition on Phones. Beam me up

As you can see from Gary’s review of the Samsung a920 this phone – and other ‘smart’ phones have a lot going on. Even after the first couple of months of having such a phone, I still had trouble remembering Where everything is. It sometimes gets annoying clicking around the menu, looking… looking….arrg! Well, one way around some of the miasma of content is just TALKING into the phone. Simple phones like my Kyocera have to be ‘taught’ to associate a sound with a number. I have to SAY, ‘mom’ and save that recorded sound with my mothers number in order for it to work. And, god forbid I don’t pronounce ‘mom’ the same way everytime. But Smart phones are in The Know!
With the a920 I wasn’t really thinking about the speech recognition feature when I first got it. I just started typing names into my Contacts database. Then, after a time I wanted to try the ‘Voice Services’. I just spoke a name into the phone. With the headset you click the button and it asks for a command. With normal phone use just hold down the CALL button until the phone asks, ‘Say a comand’. ‘Call Tom’, I said, and suddenly the phone is asking me if I want to call my friend Tom (the display shows the number). I say ‘yes’ and it’s immediately dialing! Holy cow, I didn’t have to ‘teach’ it! Somehow it magically knew. Ok, it’s not magic and it’s not perfect, but, when it works it sure feels like I’m Capt Kirk talking to the ships computer.

One little issue is street noise. For testing purposes I tried asking the phone to call a number while I am walking in the street and cars are passing by. And this isn’t Manhatten. I’m just walking around a suburb. The phone often gets my instructions wrong. I am required to repeat the name several times. When this phone isn’t finding a match it offers about three names from the Contact list and asks, ‘do you mean ____?’, and if you say ‘No’, it continues to the next name. (This feature is called ‘Choice Lists’ and can be turned on or off in the Voice Services settings). Sometimes the phone really gets it wrong. My friend Tom’s name gets confused with ‘On Demand’ and so sometimes that feature gets launched instead of his number getting dialed. erp.

A friend of mine has his Verizon phone on a cradle in his car. We can be holding a conversation in this car when suddenly out of the blue the phone announces it’s calling a number or it asks if a command was issued. Obviously some sound one of us made triggered something in it’s tiny little brain. Isn’t technology fun??

When you are in a quiet place the Voice Services do work well, generally. If you have a heavy accent or just seem to be having a problem with the Voice feature, you can turn on Digit Dialing > Adapt Digits in the settings. Just talk in the phone and it records your voice. It takes a few minutes to go through the process – you get a series of four numbers to repeat. It seems interminable but at least it’s an option for those who need it. And you can turn it off by clicking ‘Reset Digits’ in the Voice Services settings.

I have to say the phone IS smart. When a contact has more than one number available, the screen shows the list of numbers. All I have to do is say, ‘home’ or ‘mobile’ and the dialing begins. Clever little toy!

What you can use Voice Services to do:

  • Call – a name or number
  • Send Text – name in your Contact List
  • Lookup – name in your Contact List
  • Go To – a program or app that you have installed. This will bring you to the ‘My Content’ menu. I can’t just say, ‘Go To Opera Mini’. Everytime I try that it goes to On Demand.
  • Check – status of the phone, battery, the number of the phone
  • So, is this technology all that Capt Kirk enjoys? Hm, maybe not. Sure, I won’t be having Scotty beaming me up anywhere anytime soon, but I CAN call my mother. I just need to keep away from heavy traffic.

    Written by Cecilia