​I've recently tried out ~30 different Voice Applications from Windows Phone 8 market place.  There's a very brief summary of the App and my opinion of the quality. Also I've noted the provider of the speech technology, but note that in most cases the UI and experience are the responsibility of the app developer not the speech technology provider. There are many worthy efforts here while some simply didn't work at all when I tried them. Take a look yourself and decide what you like.  A noteworthy capability that Windows Phone 8 has introduced is the concept of deep linking. Although only a handful if the apps take advantage of this it gives third parties the opportunity to make a direct link to their application by registering a keyword with Windows Phone that allows you access the app functionality as though it were native to Windows Phone. This is way cool because when properly used it creates a natural connection between the brand name and the capabilities of the application and the brand.

I've divided applications into into 7 broad categories, AssistantsCommand and Control, Dictation, Games, General, Search and Translation.  Note that I didn't specifically review the built in voice capabilities of Windows Phone 8 that include Voice Activated Dialing, Voice to SMS, E-mail composition and Application launching as well as the speech API used by eight of these apps.

Assistants : These applications aspire to do everything for the user. The problem is that they over reach and fall short (it's really hard to be good at everything). Worse, you won't be able to  recall everthing the assistant is good  at so you'll restrict your usage to a few simple things assuming that you even keep using the assistant.

Alex : (MS - Deeplink, + ?)

  • What is it? Claims to be the best personal assistant. Calendar, Alarm, etc.
  • Quality: Almost there. Actually is able to use my contacts to make and search appointments ... but i always gets the time wrong ... and it doesn't enter the appointment... is this because I'm using the free version?

SpeaktoIt: (Google?)

  • What is it?: Seems to be a Siri'esq, Google Now type assistant. Very g-centric. Wants you to log in to g-services all of the time.
  • Quality: Seems to show some promise and based on the reviews elsewhere so it derserves more attention but since the WP8 implemntation / integration is so poor I'll have to wait till they address the basic issues of functionality. Voice activiety detection needs work and the Avatar is a waste screen real-estate.

Ask Ziggy: (Nuance)

  • What is it? Voice Q&A like. Siri. Does some access to your calendar. Try's to use context to answer some questions.
  • Quality: Good, but the latency is not as good as other Nuance based services.

Command and Control: These applications do something for the user. Each of these apps uses the Win-RT speech API. Their biggest weakness is that their grammars are not robust and the users may have difficulty remembering what the app can do. Some of these have deep links which means you can launch them directly with the long press on the Windows button.

Battery Monitor w/ Voice Control: (MS – Deep link)

  • What is it?: Live Tile for Battery Status.
  • Quality: Poor. Voice Commands hard to find. Do I need this? The app should be faster to return status.

 Hey DJ: (MS – Deep link)  YY Top Pick!

  • What is it? Music Control, Album, Artist, Genre, Track
  • Quality: Great!. App requires that you say the complete names of the artist, song, or album.
  • Worth noting: The only app I actually continue to use, written by a Microsoftie.
  • Deep link example: "Hey DJ play Born to Run"

 Tivo Command: (MS)

  • What is it? Speech controlled TiVo remote
  • Quality: Good. C&C, requires TiVo account
  • Worth noting: Written by a Microsoftie.

 ReadyClick : (MS - DeeplinkY Top Pick!

  • What is it? Voice Controlled Camera Shutter (replaces timer)
  • Quality: Fun. Simple app with a high cool factor. Works well.
  • Deep link example: "ReadyClick Listen"

 Toggle: (MS – Deep link)

  • What is it?  Control settings for your phone. WiFi, Blue-tooth, Cellular etc.
  • Quality: Works. But I'd like be to set the mode rather just go to the control. (ie. "Toggle Airplane Mode Off"). This is a restriction of Windows Phone.
  • Deep link example: "Toggle Airplane Mode"

Dictation: These apps focus on voice to text input for the phone. Most have verbal punctuation. Some have connections to mail, messaging and status update. Sometimes the voice service provider is not identified. Biggest weakness is lack of integration with text input scenarios. None have correction interfaces but that doesn't seem to be a big miss.

Dictation Station: (Nuance)

  • What is it?: Speech to Text Service for your phone.
  • Quality: Fast and Accurate with punctuation! Connects to Email & SMS. UI is a little confusing. Feedback on when it's listening is confusing.

 Say Mail!:(Nuance)

  • What is it?: Voice dictation for e-mail.
  • Quality: Good SR. Can't speak contact name. Doesn't always capture whole sentence. UI not great.

 Voice Assistant: (?)

  • What is it? Speech to Text Service for your phone.
  • Quality: Not really an assistant but a fast and accurate dictation service with punctuation! English only.

Speak it : (?)

  • What is it?  Speech to Text service for your phone.
  • Quality: Don't bother. It doesn't work.

Copy This : (MS - Deep Link)  YTop Pick!  (new as of Jan 10, 2012)

  • What is it? Simple app that puts dictation into the clipboard for pasting to any app.
  • Quality: Works great but I'd like punctuation.
  • Deep Link example: "Copy this to clipboard"
  • Noteworthy: Like Dictate Now, solves the input problem but goes further with hands free operation and optional TTS confirmation

Dictate Now : (MS - Deep link) 

  • What is it? Simple app that puts dictation into the clipboard for pasting to any app.
  • Quality: Works great but I'd really like punctuation.
  • Deep link example: "Dictate now to clipboard"
  • Noteworthy: Solves the speech to text input problem for apps not natively enabled.

Games - entertainment!

Calculate this! (MS)

  • What is it? : It's a game. It's for young kids. It's a quiz on math facts.
  • Quality:  Works 'ok' --- but the interface doesn't let you know that it's not listening right away after asking the question. If you answer too quickly it will miss your response.

Kung Fu Stonie: (Could be home brew)

  • What is it? Brick breaking game, voice or tap controlled.
  • Quality: Both the tap and voice version seem to have latency issues.

Memoraniac!: (MS)

  • What is it? Game that tests your ability to recall a digit sequence by voice.
  • Quality: Works well. Not an easy game. Could be more fun.

 General: Grab bag category

 Concept Mapper: (?)

  • What is it? On the go concept map creation.
  • Quality: Limited speech. Bad UI. Slow.

 GPS Voice Navigation: (?)

  • What is it? Turn by turn navigation with Voice output.
  • Quality: Good. Generic voice directions, ie. No street names. Configurable for Bing or Google as map providers.

 Voice Chat: (Nuance)

  • What is it? Chat bot with Voice I/O, English and Chinese only.
  • Quality: SR is good. UI to activate the Microphone is confusing. Voice output is mediocre. Conversation is insipid.

 Voice Toddler Cards: (?)

  • What is it?: Flash cards for kids with Voice Output
  • Quality: Not very interesting. Likely uses prerecorded speech. Only English and Spanish.

Voice Agenda (MS w/ deep link)

  • What is it? Add new appointments with your voice
  • Quality: Worthy effort but rough around the edges. Tends to end up an odd state that doesn't let you add appointments.
  • Noteworthy: Allows you to fill in fields in an arbitrary order with arbitrary text.
  • Deep link example:  "Voice Agenda add new appointment"


Search: These are specialized search or Q/A applications.

Bingo Voice: (?)

  • What is it? Voice assistant.
  • Quality: Didn't work when I tried it.

Google (Google)

  • What is it? Google search for Windows Phone.
  • Quality:  It’s g-search. The speech recognition is fine but the UI needs work. Weak feed on when it’s listening. Tends to listen too long.
  • Worth noting: It’s the only WinPhone app that features a Google speech back-end.

Urbanspoon: (MS – DeeplinkY Top Pick!

  • What is it?: Dining Guide.
  • Quality: Pretty good. "Urbanspoon find Italian!". Not easy to know what it you can say. Forgot my settings when the app was updated :-(
  • Worth noting: This app demos well because the content in the back-end is useful.
  • Deep link example: "Urbanspoon find Italian"

Voice Answer: (Nuance)

  • What is it?: Q&A system
  • Quality: Some revisions to the back end service seems to have increase the scope of questions it can answer but the UI still feels twitchy. The main problem is there is little indication when it is listening coupled with a trigger happy VAD (voice activiety detector) making a less than optimal experience. 

OpenBeer(MS - deeplink) 

  • What is it?: An app for finding nearby breweries.
  • Quality: The app name is problematic since it partially conflicts with the WP8 keyword 'Open' which is used to launch apps, and there are only two speech commands, "Search" and "find nearby breweries"
  • DeepLink example: "OpenBeer find nearby breweries"
  • Worth noting: The first speech enabled beer application - What's not to like about that!

Translation: These apps help you communicate in another language. Many of them are powered by Nuance’s cloud service SR.  Many of the apps have a freemium approach that
gives away some free access but ask you to pay if you are a heavy user

 Langizmo: (Nuance)

  • What is it?: Translation system with voice output. 14 Languages.
  • Quality: Similar to others but with a good translation features.

 iSiri: (?)

  • What is it?: Translation system with voice output.
  • Quality: Seems ok. Not an exciting. Why did they reuse the Siri name?

 iSpeak: (Nuance)

  • What is it?: Speech to Translation in 15 languages
  • Quality: Speech results were slow to come in my first tests, faster now, but it's crashing!
  • Noteworthy: They have you rotate the phone to start speaking (tap to stop). More rotation to see and hear translation – I’m getting dizzy!

 Speechy: (?)

  • What is it?: Speech to text w/ translation to English.17 languages.
  • Quality: Can't contact service.

 Translator: (MS - Speech Server)

  • What is it?: Speech to Speech Translation (+OCR)
  • Quality: Generally works. SR is a little slow. 

Voice Translator: (?)

  • What is it?: Speech to Text or Speech translator. Many languages.
  • Quality: Interface is a little tricky. Speech recognition seems  'good'.