With the Mango update to Windows Phone last month came some speech recognition capabilities. While not as advanced as Siri you can still perform quite a few tasks by voice alone.

To activate speech listening, simply press and hold the Windows start flag on your device. You can say “Help” to get your phone to read examples to you. Once activated the phone is ‘listening’.

Some of the common voice commands are:

  • Making a call to a contact “Call Brian Johnson” – if they have multiple numbers and you’ll be asked to select which one.
  • Making a call to any number “Call 123456”
  • Redial the last number called “Redial”
  • Send a text message to a contact “Text Brian Johnson” which will open a new text message, and you can then continue dictating the message which will be created for you. Say “Send” or “Cancel” to action.
  • Call your voicemail service “Call voicemail”
  • Start an App “Open Calendar” or “Start Calendar”
  • Search the web “Find restaurants in Soho” or “Search restaurants in Soho”. You can also use “Find restaurants near me” and Bing Local will give you results based on your current location.

There are also some slightly more buried voice settings which are also handy. If you use headphones a lot a very handy feature is to have the CallerID spoken to you, something even the old Nokia N95 used to do for you (poorly) but not something that’s been readily available since.

Well Windows Phone 7.5 has brought back spoken CallerID for you! Go to Settings – Ease of Access – Enable Speech for Phone Accessibility. This activates options for Talking CallerID, Voice Speed Dialling and Voice Call Forwarding.

Have incoming texts read to you – go to Settings – Speech and turn on Play Audio Confirmations – this will have your Windows Phone announce new text messages to you and optionally read them out to you. You can also choose to reply to that text message and dictate a reply, which is really handy!