Videos: Voice commands on Nokia Lumia 800 (and vs Siri)

| November 28, 2011 | 34 Replies

As you know, one of the many new features in Windows Phone Mango is more voice control. It’s not supposed to be a big selling piece like iPhone 4S’s Siri, the service on Windows Phone for voice is just there and it works well.

You may have been used to voice calling on Symbian, you may have even tried Vlingo which is pretty much the closest thing most will get to Siri other than TellMe on Windows Phone. To activate, long press the menu button anywhere. Don’t let go, just wait for the voice control box to appear.

Some things you can do on your Nokia Lumia 800:

  • Open Apps (I sometimes get too lazy to even tap and just tell my Lumia to “Open _name of app_” You can either say ‘open’ or ‘start’
  • Call. You can call contacts by first name, full name, set which number (house/mobile/work etc) and to set to speaker
  • Call phone numbers. Quite excellent if you’re reading a phone number.
  • You can command redial or voice mail
  • Search the web – just say your phrase. I often ask for the weather in Manchester. Not as glitzy as Siri.
  • Find a place – this will use maps to find that place
  • Text – very useful for short messages. Still haven’t worked out how to do punctuation though.
  • Reads your text (didn’t demo this)
  • Doesn’t need internet to work (obviously the search stuff does, but opening apps/texting/voice dialling is all from the phone)
It’s not quite Siri but I don’t think it was ever designed to (especially as Mango was out before we knew what would appear with Siri). There is also a case of initiating commands the programme is not aware of or cannot do. I don’t think Siri can open applications at the moment.  I do really like the accent of TellMe though, it seems more natural than most voice commands, even Siri.
Whatever the case, voice commands are pretty decent on the Lumia 800.

What else might be helpful?

  • Emailing options
  • Setting alarms and reminders
  • Setting contacts with alternate tags, e.g. Mum, Wife etc.
  • Possibly more natural form of speaking and improved presentation of data.
  • Recognizing your name
  • Play music/video
  • Tweet/facebook updates

Both Siri and TellMe have issues when you’re not in a quiet environment. My friends and I all say in the common room with our respective voice commands (BB/Android with Vlingo, Siri and TellMe) all failing when there’s too much background noise. It’s always funny watching friends play with Siri and them shouting at it in frustration though also equally impressive to listen to reminders, funny Siri conversations and pranking them by telling Siri to set  alarms at 4 o’clock in the morning (and then 5, and then 6 :p). It’s situations like this where the user doesn’t have to be aware of how to use a phone, just talk to it.

There are two things right now really impressing my friends. The Siri advert and the Kinect advert – both new forms of interaction with computers. The latter though impressed them more as there seemed to be more practical and innovative uses for that. I like both, the integration of which can be seen in Xbox Kinect games (which are stonkingly impressive if you ever get to play Kinect). Siri ads get annoying if you watch it next to people who don’t know anything about phones and because of Siri (which they somehow equate to Star-Trek like talking computers) they think it’s better than everything else. That said, that ad was brilliantly done, as always.

Unless Microsoft are going to do anything significant to improve TellMe, I think they should steer clear of comparing themselves against Siri. It’s just one of those situations where Apple decides what feature to push and everyone else trying to ‘copy’ and failing. e.g. touchscreens. Comparing to Siri only reinforces the need for voice control which Siri does better. Nokia and Microsoft need to focus on more WP/Lumia related things.

This video shows a very short ‘comparison’ of Siri and Tellme.

(cheers yoyo for the tip)

Just to add, I think it’s pretty cool that even my Omnia7 with an update could do this. You don’t need to buy a completely new phone just to have voice commands, eh 4S? But it’s still nice to have a new phone, especially when it looks completely different to my old one.

Here’s a video response to that Siri video above – cheers MDF. Didn’t get around to demoing the read text function .

Video by 



Category: Nokia, Video, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]
  • BellGo

    There is no denying that Siri is much more advanced, (just check the video Jay linked) but I never really use voice control, so I don’t mind.

    • MDF

      the video that jay posted is crap. The guy is either an idiot or an apple employee.

      this a better example of what tellme can do

      • Guest

        This shows exactly why TellMe is crap. It’s old-school voice commands and you have to use robotic voice. Siri doesn’t have any commands baked in and you can say whatever you want in natural voice. Big difference.

        • MDF

          no you cant tell everything you want to siri because it too has voice commands just more streamlined

          have you actually used siri?
          try to speak like the indian guy and get back to us what it will reply to you lol

          • Jay Montano

            In my own tests, UK Siri has problems with names of my Indian friends. TellMe spots them instantly.

            • Tak

              In my tests Siri understands my Finglish gibbesrish more or less perfectly. TellMe is more or less useless.

              • Jay Montano

                Maybe better suited for different accents? I mean the Australian Siri has an australian accent. I think tellme only has US/UK accents.

                Anyway, Siri voice commands is the most prominent feature of iPhone 4S, that’s what it’s all about – the main reason to upgrade so I guess there’s a lot of focus to make it work.

                WP’s version is kinda just there if you want it – not key to the experience but it’s not bad.

                • kan

                  Apple approach is to polish what is there already and then market it. This leads on the whole to a more cohesive experience than trying to incoporate the latest tech all the time.

                • Tak

                  Yeah, might be.

                  But I wouldn’t say this or that is iPhones most prominent feature, because its pretty tight package. For me its most prominent features were camera and apps, that I couldn’t find anywhere else(not even close, or at all).

        • migo

          In theory. In practice you can only use the natural language that Apple has programmed in.

  • Grazy

    wow, that’s actually pretty good! I’m quite impressed! I sort of wishing the N9 had this!

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  • kan


    One huge point missed in all this is how Siri vs TellMe works. Siri sends every single voice command back to Apple where its servers analyse and record it before deciding what is the best response and then sending it back to the phone. TellMe does not it works everything out itself. Siri cannot work if you do not have an internet connection.

    Siri has a far better understanding of natural language processing and tighter integration into the o/s. However its NLP engine is provided by Nuance.

    MS needs to really push on voice control – it’s not a technical hurdle what Apple has achieved. But they have executed it better than MS currently.

    • Jay Montano

      True. Sorry, I should have pointed that out.

      Obviously for things needing internet data, you’d want an internet connection anyway, but even things like texting, voice dialling needs internet (as testament by the annoyance of 4S friends being Siriless in lecture – they have a Faraday cage – not that they should be using it there anyway :p)

      I’m not sure if part of the sending data to apple is there to collectively improve Siri later – mass self learning, but yeah it is nice the voice part in TellMe doesn’t rely on the internet.

      • kan

        They send data to the Siri servers for improving the data and that Apple requires control(joke).

        SIRI is an interface like the keyboard and mouse – its a very clean and well developed interface with some AI thrown in but if you want a powerful text to speech system that is capable in multiple languages then Google TTS is powerful.

        Apple greatest strength is humanising the technology and making it simple and fun. They are not great inventors but great innovators. The MS, Samsung, Motorolas of this world are too busy trying to develop the next cutting edge technology.

        MS is not short on vision but execution. This is a video of how they envision TellMe to work.

  • jr

    am a wp7 fun but Siri beats Telme pats down.. I hope MS improves Tellme in their next offering

  • Akash

    S40 also support voice commands for phone book etc what is new?

  • MDF

    lets not forget siri is only available on 4s where you can have tellme on your 1st generation wp7 phones

    offcourse we all know that siri could as well run on older iphones but apple doesnt want to

  • Akash

    S40 also support voice commands for phone book etc in perfect indian english, marathi and hindi language what is new? In iphone4s this very joke of iphone

  • Akash

    S40 also support voice commands for phone book etc in perfect indian english, marathi and hindi language what is new? In iphone4s this very big joke of iphone

    • JD!

      Actually siri uses Nuance in backend. Hence adding these language packages from Nuance would not be a big thing for them.

      There are lot of 3rd party packages available which uses Nuance and improve in the languages said above…

      The credit of siri recognizing voices actually goes to Nuance -The technology which allows learning and improving languages and finetuning them as well.

  • mussab

    TellMe deals with certain commands and Siri deals with others (although wider range). It’s not fair to compare them only by what Siri can understand.

    Someone can easily put a video based on commands or languages that TellMe can comprehend and Siri can’t deal with (Like opening an app, understanding Spanish commands or dictating a message in Italian).

    Also it’s not that hard to make Siri fail in recognizing speech:

    One thing to keep in mind. TellMe isn’t just a front end technology like Siri (and similar apps you find in Android Market), it also does the back end. While Nuance does the heavy work behind Siri in the iPhone.

    • Tak

      Siri understood him better than me. I would have walked.

      • mussab

        If any intelligence was involved, I’m sure it’ll be a a very easy choice between “home” and “work”

        Would you have “F**ked” also? 🙂

        • Tak

          Begging for a “your mom” -joke?

  • Jesse

    TellMe has many features that are missing from WindowsPhone too, not sure why. For example TellMe in Ford Sync cars can play music by song, artist, album, playlist, genre and on the phone it has no media control.

    I really only use voice control in the car but I do hope Microsoft makes some improvments to the service, especially for sending text which is primary thing I need to do while driving hands free.

    • migo

      Microsoft does seem to have a problem of not porting all features over to different devices/services. Lack of transit directions on Bing Maps for Windows Phone is a perfect example.

      • Jay Montano

        I also wish I could do more complicated messages and dictation like I can on Windows desktop.

  • Rafael

    Any perspective of something similar for the N9?

  • Bloob

    Pff, clearly Siri failed. All australians want teen anal…

  • Ery

    video metrotube v3.0, client youtube for windows phone

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