Voice command software products on computing devices

Both Apple Mac and Windows PC provide built in speech recognition features for their latest operating systems.

Microsoft Windows

Two Microsoft operating systems, Windows 7 and Windows Vista, provide speech recognition capabilities. Microsoft integrated voice commands into their operating systems to provide a mechanism for people who want to limit their use of the mouse and keyboard, but still want to maintain or increase their overall productivity.

Windows Vista

With Windows Vista voice control, a user may dictate documents and emails in mainstream applications, start and switch between applications, control the operating system, format documents, save documents, edit files, efficiently correct errors, and fill out forms on the Web. The speech recognition software learns automatically every time a user uses it, and speech recognition is available in English (U.S.), English (U.K.), German (Germany), French (France), Spanish (Spain), Japanese, Chinese (Traditional), and Chinese (Simplified). In addition, the software comes with an interactive tutorial, which can be used to train both the user and the speech recognition engine.

Windows 7

In addition to all the features provided in Windows Vista, Windows 7 provides a wizard for setting up the microphone and a tutorial on how to use the feature.

Mac OS X

All Mac OS X computers come pre-installed with the speech recognition software. The software is user-independent, and it allows for a user to, “navigate menus and enter keyboard shortcuts; speak checkbox names, radio button names, list items, and button names; and open, close, control, and switch among applications.” However, the Apple website recommends a user buy a commercial product called Dictate.

Commercial products

If a user is not satisfied with the built in speech recognition software or a user does not have a built speech recognition software for their OS, then a user may experiment with a commercial product such as Braina Pro or Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows PCs, and Dictate, the name of the same software for Mac OS.

Voice command mobile devices

Any mobile device running Android OS, Microsoft Windows Phone, iOS 9 or later, or Blackberry OS provides voice command capabilities. In addition to the built speech recognition software for each mobile phone’s operating system, a user may download third party voice command applications from each operating system’s application store: Apple App store, Google Play, Windows Phone Marketplace (initially Windows Marketplace for Mobile), or BlackBerry App World.

Android OS

Google has developed an open source operating system called Android, which allows a user to perform voice commands such as: send text messages, listen to music, get directions, call businesses, call contacts, send email, view a map, go to websites, write a note, and search Google. The speech recognition software is available for all devices since Android 2.2 “Froyo”, but the settings must be set to English. Google allows for the user to change the language, and the user is prompted when he or she first uses the speech recognition feature if he or she would like their voice data to be attached to their Google account. If a user decides to opt into this service, it allows Google to train the software to the user’s voice.

Google introduced the Google Assistant with Android 7.0 “Nougat”. It is much more advanced than the older version.

Amazon.com has the Echo that uses Amazon’s custom version of Android to provide a voice interface.

Microsoft Windows

Windows Phone is Microsoft’s mobile device’s operating system. On Windows Phone 7.5, the speech app is user independent and can be used to: call someone from your contact list, call any phone number, redial the last number, send a text message, call your voice mail, open an application, read appointments, query phone status, and search the web. In addition, speech can also be used during a phone call, and the following actions are possible during a phone call: press a number, turn the speaker phone on, or call someone, which puts the current call on hold.

Windows 10 introduces Cortana, a voice control system that replaces the formerly used voice control on Windows phones.

iOS

Apple added Voice Control to its family of iOS devices as a new feature of iPhone OS 3. The iPhone 4S, iPad 3, iPad Mini 1G, iPad Air, iPad Pro 1G, iPod Touch 5G and later, all come with a more advanced voice assistant called Siri. Voice Control can still be enabled through the Settings menu of newer devices. Siri is a user independent built-in speech recognition feature that allows a user to issue voice commands. With the assistance of Siri a user may issue commands like, send a text message, check the weather, set a reminder, find information, schedule meetings, send an email, find a contact, set an alarm, get directions, track your stocks, set a timer, and ask for examples of sample voice command queries. In addition, Siri works with Bluetooth and wired headphones.

Amazon Alexa

In 2014 Amazon introduced the Alexa smart home device. Its main purpose was just a smart speaker, that allowed the consumer to control the device with their voice. Eventually, it turned into a novelty device that had the ability to control home appliance with voice. Now almost all the appliances are controllable with Alexa, including light bulbs and temperature. By allowing voice control Alexa can connect to smart home technology allowing you to lock your house, control the temperature, and activate various devices. This form of A.I allows for someone to simply ask it a question, and in response the Alexa searches for, finds, and recites the answer back to you.

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