Developers creating applications for Windows can now add a bit of code that allows their app to interpret voice commands using the back-end features of Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Microsoft formally announced the new controls earlier this week. While the company didn’t provide any direct examples of the controls, developers using Bing’s new controls could create Windows applications that respond to a user’s voice.
The company did say that this is the same technology that allows the Windows Phone operating system to dictate messages and interpret speech natively. While the new features are great for developers looking to differentiate their applications, it’s also great for Microsoft’s users in general.
That’s because Windows doesn’t yet offer many of the next-level speech experiences like Apple’s Siri assistant or Google’s Google Now. By making these sort of technologies available to developers, Microsoft could be hoping that developers will move in to fill Windows 8’s speech void.
It’s good for Microsoft in other ways too. The company has been on a mission to extend its Bing Search engine outside of places where users would normally expect to interact with it.
Bing and Microsoft’s TellMe service are what will enable users to perform web and media searches from the Xbox One’s dashboard. It will also power the speech recognition and interpretation systems that will enable users to speak to their Xbox One and have it perform actions when the Xbox One launches with its updated Kinect sensor on November 22nd.
Xbox users don’t even have to wait until November to get some of Microsoft’s voice technology in their living room. Users with an Xbox 360 can ask Bing to search for movies, television shows and music as long as they have a Kinect. The Xbox 360 uses the Kinect sensor to listen for commands and then connects to Bing and TellMe’s services to interpret that command and present search results.
While Microsoft is just making these controls available to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 developers today, it’s used them in its own applications for some time. Bing Health & Fitness for Windows already use them.