An employee-only demonstration of a new voice-operated search app for Windows Phone highlights a number of improvements.
The video, which was originally confidential and was first unearthed by MSFTKitchen, features a showcase of a new Bing mobile search app for the Windows Phone 8 platform that is not only faster and more accurate than the existing service, but appears to work even when the user is fighting to be heard over background noise.
Even with noise in the background, the new version of the app was able to correctly respond to a search request for a local branch of Starbucks -- "Starbucks in Washington" -- in roughly two seconds, while the current version of the app was running a search for "sky in washing machine."
Though some feel Microsoft has been lagging behind its closet direct competitors -- Apple and Google -- in terms of voice-activated function, the truth is that for years the company has been dedicated to developing its voice recognition technologies, believing that it will be one of the two key interfaces for the computer of the future, the other being gesture. The Xbox Kinect, which combines both, has been on the market since 2010, a year before Apple first showcased its virtual assistant, Siri.
The demonstration was in part to show the improvements in a new app but also to highlight how changes at the company's data centers and within its back end technology means that many of the improvements, in terms of speed and error detection, are already being implemented to the existing service.