The Quest For Shiny

T-Mobile releases a software flash for my phone – the Dash – that would upgrade the thing to Windows Mobile 6. Have you seen WM6? It’s very, very sharp looking. Enough to make me keep on checking the TMo web site every few days for new news on the bits… when they popped late last week I grabbed and even came home early to get the thing updated. I have to say that I find that with each new WM release I have to install less and less extra software to get the thing into a “usable” state. This time especially – I set up a custom home screen, swapped out a couple of vile pink T-Mobile images, and that was it.

And that’s when I noticed that there were no more Voice Tags on the phone… and so begins the complaint.

Since I work at Microsoft, I have the option of beta testing new versions of Windows Mobile as they are made available. I’ve done this with two different rounds of software updates – on the drive to WM6 I decided not to because I’m depending on my phone more than ever before and any beta software always introduces a chance of issues… in fact, I once lost a woman’s phone number due to a crash with a commercial version of phone software – this go around I opted out of the beta program.

Another side effect of that process is that you learn where the applications on your phone come from. At the core are the bits created by Microsoft, and with the beta you get those. When you pick up a phone at a carrier, the carrier and the manufacturer have to option of adding software to the device. And some of those are very useful. So when I got the WM6 image from T-Mobile, I expected the same level of functionality that I had when the device was using WM5.

And that’s when I discovered the missing Voice Tags.

Voice Tags were handy for me. They allowed me to record a voice snippet and attach it to a contact. I could then press the button on my Bluetooth headset and dial someone by that voice snippet. Did the voice snippets migrate well? Nope. Did I lose them on a hard reset? Yep. Did it bother me? Nope – I only had 3 or 4 Voice Tags set up. I don’t know if Voice Tags were part of WM5, HTC’s offering or T-Mobile’s offering – I just know that they’re gone now.

In it’s place is Voice Command. Voice Command is an ambitious piece of software that interprets your voice commands on the fly. Instead of setting up a Voice Tag for “Smelly” you can simply say “Call Smelly At Home” and the phone interprets your command – with Voice Tags it was more of a “voice matching” system.

Truth be told, the software isn’t bad. It’s been successful 8 out of 10 tries. Why would I grouse about that? Here’s why:

Voice Tags: overhead of setting up tags, non-pervasive between hard resets, 99.44% accurate, worked with my Bluetooth headset, didn’t require a phone unlock

Voice Command: no overhead of tags, no impact by hard resets, 80% accurate, doesn’t work with my Bluetooth headset, requires a keypad unlock to activate, takes longer to dial (in addition to the processing time, there’s a confirmation that you sorta need given the lack of 100% accuracy).

Give the above, for the year I’ve had a the Dash (and the year that I had the SDA before it) I never had to hard reset it meaning that I only had to set up the tags once (which literally took 3 minutes), and that’s what’s making me cranky. Really cranky, actually. I did find one workaround that lets me toggle the Voice Command using the BT headset, but you still have to talk into the phone itself… means I don’t have to unlock the phone to voice dial, but even so: not too useful.

Otherwise the new software looks really good. The new home screen looks great – all of the gradient colors make me feel like I have a brand new phone. Thrilled to have it – especially since I didn’t need new hardware to get it! – but it’s not without having to deal with some changes.

I just wish I could dial without touching the phone…

4 thoughts on “The Quest For Shiny”

  1. Funny I was thinking the same thing about you! Especially since someone cross linked to both our blogs :)

  2. Randy,

    Thank Heaven for your latest rant! I’ve been going crazy with my new unlocked Dash that I upgraded immediately to WM6. Then spent the last 5 days pulling my hair out looking for the voice tag option. Just got through experimenting with VoiceRecog and it’s really not all that bad. I think I’d like the option for both and can see why a tag would be better for some things, but the VR is kinda cool and at least we don’t have to pay for it. Thanks again for saving me from an ulcer.

    By the way, any idea how I can get better use out of the volume strip, and if so, how to do it? I understand there is some hack that changes the functionality? A little scared to mess with registry, and don’t really even know how, but the Joggr seems a little useless.


  3. I’m pretty sure there’s a hack that lets you do different things with the Joggr, but I simply turned it off… you might want to check some forums like HowardForum – they have a lot of stuff up there. HTH!

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