Voice Enabling the iPhone – iAssistant?

March 4, 2008

in iphone, Mobility, Skype Journal, VoIP

Wouldn’t it be nice to never dial a number again. What if you could just push one button and call all your friends by name? That in a nutshell is what Mobivox does. She’s a call assistant. “Hi Stuart. Who would you like to call?” My video examples below show how you can voice-enable the iPhone; in fact any phone and put all your friends on one button. Or simpler still just use a single voice command as shown in Video Three and soon maybe available through the SDK.

Video One: iPhone Favorites or Speed Dial

This simply uses the “favorites” (a double home key on the iPhone 1.14) as the speed dial function to Mobivox. I’ve saved my local access number / it’s in my contacts. This differs from

  • Other speed dialing solution are limited to one number. Mobivox reaches anyone in your Mobivox directory. (Mobivox to Mobivox calls are free, as are Mobivox to Skype calls which I use frequently)
  • I recognize it may still be easier to call a few close friends directly by speed dial. Eg Family members. However then you won’t be able to bring Mobivox back into the call and start a conference or more…
  • Some very slick cellphones have voice activated dialing but it doesn’t work that well. I’ve had some success with Mobivox on bluetooth in the car.
  • Think call assistant rather than voice enabled.

Note: with all these videos I’ve left “voice confirmation enabled” so Mobivox repeats who I am trying to reach as a confirmation.

Video Two: iPhone – Super Speed Dial Icon

This video uses a speed dial hack suggested on a number of iPhone related blogs. More here. Basically you put a callto: link onto your iPhone home page by creating it in the Safari browser. It’s technically still two clicks. I didn’t work out how to create a custom button however here’s the secret script and a button generator. Anyone want to create one for Mobivox? The result is the same. One number enables you to ask for your friends by name.

Video 3: Jailbroken iPhone Voice Enabled by Makayama

Now with the iPhone SDK coming out on March 6th; I’m sure we will also see some other Voice enabling Apps launched for the iPhone. The one I tried was Makayama’s Voice Dial which adds simple speech recognition and creates voice commands. It is one of the first to ask real money $27 (feels way too expensive; sell like ring tones at 99 cents and they will flyout the door). The downside you have record each name/command. However, as you can see from the demo… Video 3 could make this a powerful option and even better in the car than the two approaches above. It’s one I’ve been using on my N95 (which has voice built in.) for some time. Makayama also have some other neat software coming for the iPhone. See also iPhone Topic, IntoMobile, and best review here (Just Another iPhone Blog) andat Pocket Picks who basically says wait for the SDK and it will probably come free in the end.

Note: Using a voice dialer to reach another voice system is sort of overkill. For me the speed dial makes more sense and best of all would be a Mobivox button on my homepage that needs clicking just once. It’s inevitable and the future in one.

So I’ve gone a little overboard here on the demo front. Producing videos etc. Hardly. I taped a Microsoft LifeCam NX-6000 to a tripod and found the mic sucked. Still good learning – using video. The real question is…? Why do we need “numbers” anymore? There’s a lot we can do by learning to use voice commands effectively. I’ve tried them out on my Mac too although that still seems weird.

I also shared these videos with a couple of friends before posting and they said “Stuart this almost sounds like a commercial.” It sorta is and isn’t. Video One encapsulates a demo that I’ve done many times in public (all quiet places) where I’ve dialed Mobivox on speakerphone as a show and tell and then asked for my friend’s phone by name. Eg “Andrew Mobile” or “Andrew Skype”. Their phone rings and each time I get a that’s cool! (Mobivox has some other neat tricks, but I’ll leave that for later.) It was this demo that originally caught my interest late last year and since then I’ve been working / helping Mobivox in a variety of capacities. I also got the green light to talk about Mobivox something everyone who blogs and has a company client relationship is very careful about. I’m blogging because I’m enthusiastic about the opportunities that are suggested.

I used to tell stories a few years ago about Skype. In fact I was called the Skype Evangelist more than once. This category “VoIP” and “Mobile” remain pretty interesting. If you could put Voice Enabled Assistants into every phone; personalized just for you…. well that’s worth talking and dreaming about. See my post from two weeks ago.

BTW…. do all these things at your own risk; particularly jailbreaking your iPhone, and be careful with numbers etc.

  • I found a much better voice dialer on the app store called voicethis dialer. It doesn’t require any training or voice tags and you can voice dial anyone in your contact list in under 1 second.

Previous post:

Next post: