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August 8, 2013

5 Windows Phone apps you can talk to

You might say it was a very Bing week for Windows Phone. On Monday we announced a bunch of improvements and new features coming to Bing search. Then yesterday Bing launched its four popular Windows 8 apps—News, Weather, Finance, and Sports—on the phone.

But that’s not all that’s going on with Bing these days. Its speech recognition technology is also showing up on more of Windows Phone 8’s most popular apps.

There’s already a lot you can do with your voice on Windows Phone right out of the box, as this how-to article demonstrates. But it’s up to individual developers to wire their apps to take advantage of the phone’s Bing-powered Speech feature. A growing number are. Not sure what apps support the feature or what you can say? Here’s a trick: Press and hold the Start button on your phone, tap the question mark, and flick left to Apps. Then tap an app’s name to see examples of the commands it understands. (You’ll need to have used the app at least once for it to show up in this list.)

You might be surprised by how many apps in Store have quietly added Speech. Here are a few of my favorites and some things to try saying.

What apps do you find yourself talking to most?

NBC News

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The highly-rated NBC News brings you stories, videos, and slide shows from NBC’s crack team of journalists and storytellers.

Say “NBC News…”

  • “…read headlines”
  • “…view top stories”
  • “….search.”
  • “…show me the settings page.”


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The Discovery app offers broadcast schedules, highlight clips, and even select full episodes for Discovery’s lineup of popular shows including Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush, and MythBusters. This app is also one of the Store’s most speech-friendly. It can tell you what’s on at a certain time or when a particular show is on, and remind you when a favorite show is about to start.

Say Discovery…”

  • “…what’s on at 6 PM?”
  • “…what’s on now?”
  • “….when is Deadliest Catch on?”
  • “…remind me when MythBusters is on.”
  • “…play videos.”
  • “…what’s on in the morning?”   


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The official Vimeo app for Windows Phone 8 says it also supports a long list of voice commands.

Say “Vimeo, go to…”

  • “…my feed.”
  • “…featured.”
  • “…my videos.”
  • “…my likes.”
  • “…watch later.”
  • “…my albums.”
  • “…my groups.”
  • “…my channels.”
  • “…search.”
  • “…my videos.” 


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The MarketWatch  app delivers real-time market data, news, and investing advice throughout the day. The app can read you the latest MarketWatch headlines and stories, or give you a stock quote.

Say “MarketWatch…”

  • “….get quote for MSFT” or “…get quote for Microsoft.”
  • “…get Latest News.”
  • “…get details for Dow Jones.”


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Not sure what to cook—or how? The official Epicurious app has more than 30,000 recipes from top-notch cookbooks and magazines like Bon Appetit and Gourmet.  Speech is great when your hands are covered in flour.

Say “Epicurious…”

  • “…show recipes for romantic dinners.”
  • “…show my favorite recipes.”
  • “…show my shopping list.”
  • “…show my last viewed recipe.”
  • “…search recipes by ingredient.”