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Treo Pro Voice Command

Microsoft Voice Command Software Transforms Your Windows Mobile Treo Smartphone Experience

Voice-CommandFollowing my post yesterday where I looked at how making call on the Treo Pro is ultrafast and intuitive I will now take you through another option that allows you to just use your voice to control your Calendar, Contacts, Media, Messaging, Phone, Start Menu and Status using an unbelievably powerful built-in application called Voice Command which in this version 1.6 offers absolutely superb state-of-the-art speech recognition technology.

Thanks to Voice Command on your Windows Mobile powered Treo smartphone, you no longer have to fumble with buttons to do a lot of different tasks on your device such as making a call, finding a contact or even turning your device off.  Additionally, thanks to support for Bluetooth Headsets and Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, you don’t even have to touch your smartphone to initiate a command.

Before I get started with this review I just have to say that the most frustrating thing about setting up Voice Command on my Treo Pro has been the very poor level of information provided by both Microsoft and Palm to show you exactly how best to quickly setup and use this rather terrific application – the official Treo Pro user guide is rather thin on details while the official Microsoft Voice Command tutorials proved to be unnecessarily complex. 

I hope that I’ll be able to do a slightly better job here below because this really is a terrific application that everyone should use daily…

Voice Command Setup (Activation)

 Microsoft-Voice-Command Treo-Pro-Voice-Command

Enabling Voice Command only requires two rather basic steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Personal > Voice Command (image above left)
    • Tick “Enabled”
    • Check the items that you would like to have voice enabled (such as Contacts and Phone) and set or change the Options and Notifications if necessary.
  2. Go to Settings > Personal > Buttons (image above right)
    • Select the button that you would like to assign to Voice Command (I recommend Hold Side)
    • Assign Voice Command to this button via the pull-down menu

Test Voice Command

Now that your Voice Command is enabled and that you have assigned a button you’re ready to begin testing the application with both your smartphone and Bluetooth Headset.  Here below we’ll just use the “Help” command to learn how to answer a question and form Voice Commands.

  1. Voice Command Test Via Smartphone
    • Hold your smartphone in front of you (up to 1 meter / 2 feet away)
    • Press you assigned Voice Command button until you hear a short melody indicating that the application has been started (a small microphone icon is also displayed at the top of your screen)
    • Pause briefly and in a clear voice say “Help”
    • You will hear Voice Command speaking and after it finishes answer “General”
    • Voice Command will then simply speak the general way to initiate a command and automatically close
  2. Voice Command Test Via Bluetooth Headset (used with my favourite Jabra BT530)
    • Make sure your Bluetooth Headset is paired with your smartphone and both Bluetooth and the headset are turned on
    • Press the Call Answer/End button on your BT headset for one or two seconds until you hear a short beep then release button (Voice Command initiates even if your screen is switched off and you do not need to wake it)
    • [Repeat steps 3 to 5 above from say “Help”]
  3. Voice Command Test Via Stereo Bluetooth Headphone (used with my favourite Jabra BT3030)
    • Make sure your Bluetooth Stereo Headphone is paired with your smartphone, both Bluetooth and the headphone are turned on and that both Wireless Stereo and Handsfree services have been selected for your headphone in Bluetooth settings
    • As before, press the Call Answer/End button on your BT Stereo headphone for one or two seconds until you hear a short beep then release button
    • [Repeat steps 3 to 5 above from say “Help”]

Notes: When Voice Command asks you a question, it listens to you automatically when it is finished speaking.  While Voice Command is listening to you, a microphone icon is displayed at the top of the screen.  You can press the Voice Command button (on smartphone or BT headset) at any time during a question to interrupt or cancel.  You should begin speaking immediately after the Voice Command icon displays. 

Also, aside from asking for “Help” with commands from Voice Command, you can also alternatively say: “What can I say?” or “What are my choices?”

Voice Command – Making A Call By Name (Contacts)

Whether you are walking down the street or sitting at your desk, you can easily display contacts to view an address, phone number, or e-mail address. Place phone calls to people who are in your address book by using your voice.  Just say "Call Nancy Anderson" to place a call or include "at home," "at work," or "on mobile" if there is more than one phone number listed.  Voice Command will even tell you which numbers you have for Nancy Anderson and let you decide.

Now that you have tested that Voice Command is working properly you’re ready to start using its full functionality and naturally initiating a call will likely be the first thing that you’ll want to do.  To quickly make a call to one of your contacts, you just:

1.  Press the Voice Command button and then simply say any of the following commands:

  • Call “contact name”
  • Call “contact name” at home
  • Call “contact name” at work
  • Call “contact name” on mobile
  • Call “contact name” on cell
  • Call “contact name” on cellular
  • Call “contact name” at home two
  • Call “contact name” at car
  • Call “contact name” on radio
  • Call “contact name” on pager
  • Call “contact name” at assistant

Examples of how you might say commands:

  • Call Karen Archer on cell
  • Call Frank Miller
  • Call City Light and Power

Note: For best and fastest results the <contact name> should be the full name (first + last) of the contact as it exists in your address book but you can also just use the first name.  Additionally, you can also use the value of the “Nickname” field in place of the contact name. 

Voice Command is very specific about what it listens for, if you do not say the name exactly as it is listed in the address book, the system will be less accurate.  If you have trouble accessing a contact, you can add a “nickname” in the contact’s nickname field.  You can then use that nickname to access the contact.

2.  To confirm that you want to make the call after Voice Command responds:

  • You can say "Yes" or "Correct" to call.
  • You can say "No" or "Incorrect" to try again.

Note: Saying Correct or Incorrect will generally produce better results.  You can also say “Cancel” to exit Voice Command.

3.  On some occasions if you have multiple contacts with the same name for different locations Voice Command may for example tell you that it has found three instances of this contact.  Voice Command will say “Showing, three found” then for example say “Call this [Contact Name]?” then you just need to say “Yes” or “No” to cycle through all three available contacts. 

Note: As I pointed out earlier for greater speed and accuracy it is simply best to ensure that you use unique names for your contacts.  For example, I have three separate contact files for a friend called David King and just changed the name of the contact to “David King – UK”, “David King – US” and “David King – Japan”.  With this change Voice Command has been nearly 100% accurate.

Related commands:

  • You can say "Call back" to call back the last call that you received.
  • You can say "Redial" to call back the last call that you made.

Additionally, Voice Command makes it easy for you to just view your contacts with one command.  If you want to view the details for a contact named Nancy Anderson, say "show Nancy Anderson."

Voice Command – Dialing A Number (Phone)

If you need to call a number that is not in your contact list, just say the phone number; for example, "Dial 425 555 0137." Callback or redial the last caller Use "callback" to call the last person who called you and "redial" to call the last person who you called. This simplifies calling people that are not in your contact list.

To dial a number, you might say one of the following commands:

  • Dial [7-digit number]
  • Dial [10-digit number]
  • Dial [1+10-digits]
  • Dial [4-1-1]

Examples of how you might say commands:

  • Dial 555-0200
  • Dial 800-555-1212
  • Dial 1-800-555-1212
  • Dial 411

Voice Command – Appointments (Calendar)

As you are running out the door, you can easily have Voice Command read the details of your upcoming appointments out loud.

To find out when you have meetings today, you might say one of the following commands:

  • What are my appointments (today)?
  • What are my meetings (today)?
  • What's my schedule (today)?
  • What's my calendar (today)?
  • What's my calendar for today?

To find out when you have meetings tomorrow, you might say one of the following commands:

  • What are my appointments tomorrow?
  • What are my meetings tomorrow?
  • What's my schedule tomorrow?
  • What's my calendar for tomorrow?

To find out when your next appointment is, you might say one of the following commands:

  • What's my next meeting?
  • What's my next appointment?

While Voice Command is reading any of your meetings above to you, you can press the Voice Command button to interrupt, and then you can say:

  • Next
  • Previous
  • Repeat
  • Cancel

Related commands, just say:

  • Reminders On
  • Reminders Off

Voice Command – Music & WMP (Media)

Use your voice to choose the music that you want to play from your collection by album, artist, or genre. You can select the music that you want to listen to the way you think about it.  You can even ask Voice Command to "play everything" in your entire music collection, turning your Windows Mobile smartphone into your personal DJ.

To play a guided selection, you might say:

  • Play music
  • Play media
  • Play artist
  • Play album
  • Play genre

To play a direct selection, you might say:

  • Play artist name
  • Play album name
  • Play genre name
  • Play everything

To control Microsoft Windows Media player, you can say:

  • Play
  • Pause
  • Stop
  • Next
  • Previous (track)
  • Shuffle on
  • Shuffle off
  • What song is this?
  • What track is this?

Voice Command – Programs (Start Menu)

Start any program that is installed on your smartphone.  Try “Start Solitaire”, “Start Calculator” or you can just say “Start Google Maps” to see the application open with just a couple of seconds.

To launch an application, you can say one of the following commands:

  • Start [program name]
  • Show [program name]
  • Open [program name] 

Voice Command – Device Status (Status)

Thanks to Voice Command you can use your voice to quickly hear the status of your Battery level, Signal strength, The time, The date, or Missed calls.

You can say “What time is it?”, “What day is it?”, “What is my signal strength?” , “What is my battery level?”, “What calls have I missed?”.  You can also say “Flight mode On” to turn off all radios on the device, or “Flight mode off” to restore the radio states.  You can say “Ringer high”, “Ringer Low”, “Ringer Medium” or “Ringer Vibrate” to control the ringer settings.

I have to admit that Status has probably been one of the very coolest features of Voice Command for me and I absolutely love all these options – absolutely amazing.

Personalize Voice Command

 Voice-Command-Options Voice-Command-Notifications

Within the Voice Command application you will find the following options:

Voice Command enabled check box
When you tap the check box for this option, the features and commands for Voice Command are enabled. When unchecked, Voice Command is disabled.

Checked items are voice enabled box
You can tap any of the check boxes to enable Voice Commands for the particular feature on your Windows Mobile device.

Options button
After you select one of the check boxes in the Checked items are voice enabled box, you can tap Options to choose options for that program or feature. The following options are displayed for each of the programs:

  • Calendar options (Announce calendar reminders)
    When you select this option, Voice Command reads calendar reminders out loud.
  • Media options (Announce media selections)
    When you select this option, Voice Command announces the name of the album, artist, or genre that you choose.
  • Messaging options
    • (Announce new messages)
      When you select this option, Voice Command will announce the sender and subject of incoming messages. Voice Command will read the contents of SMS messages.
    • (High Priority Only)
      When you select this option, only the messages marked as high priority are announced.
  • Phone options
    • (Confirm when calling by name)
      When you select this option, Voice Command will ask you to confirm that the correct name was recognized before placing the call.
    • (Confirm when dialing by number)
      When you select this option, Voice Command will ask you to confirm that the correct number was recognized before placing the call.
    • (Announce Incoming Calls)
                  When you select this option, Voice Command will announce the caller ID information of incoming calls.
  • Start Menu options (Include items in Programs folder)
    When you select this option, Voice Command starts any program that is located on the Start menu, in the Programs folder, or in a subfolder of the Programs folder. 

Notifications button
The notifications button will display a dialog that allows you to control how Voice Command announces alerts.

  • Announce notifications using Bluetooth hands free only
    This option will cause all notifications to be spoken through an attached Bluetooth hands free device. If no Bluetooth headset is attached, notifications will be suppressed.
  • Announce notifications using Bluetooth hands free if available
    This option will cause all notifications to be spoken through an attached Bluetooth hands free device if present. If no hands free device is paired, notifications will be played through the device’s speaker.
  • Announce notifications using Device Speaker or Wired Headset only
    This option will cause all notifications to be spoken through the device speaker or an attached wired headset only.
  • Only during free time
    This option when checked will suppress announcements that occur during appointments that exist in your calendar.


Overall I have found Voice Command to be nothing short of an absolutely spectacular application and it really is a shame that both Palm and Microsoft have done such a poor job at communicating its setup, features and benefits.

Now that I’ve used it properly (particularly with a good Bluetooth Headset), there is no doubt that Voice Command makes it easier and more convenient than ever to manage your digital lifestyle as it completely transforms your smartphone experience and turns into your own virtual personal assistant ready to take orders via speech alone. 

Additionally, thanks to Voice Command’s state-of-the-art speech technology, not only do you get extremely accurate voice recognition (close to 100%) but unlike competing programs you will also never have to prerecord important phone numbers or use difficult commands to access the information that you need.  Once I understood the basics and started to use Voice Command seriously I was  

More Resources:

Treonauts are always ready to command

Posted by Andrew on November 18, 2008 at 11:17 AM

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by Daniel Tan | Nov 18, 2008 4:31:22 PM

Additionally, I was messing with Voice Control the other day and read off the back a bus the following command "dial 888FASTBUS", reading off the alphabets and VC automagically converted it into a dialed #.


by Eduardo | Nov 18, 2008 11:24:49 PM

Amazing little program!

by gary | Nov 19, 2008 12:47:41 AM

Edwuardo..and Andrew
I really appreciate both of your posts on the Pro. I just received my Treo Pro a week or so ago, and am fascinated with it's ability to function without any prior instruction. The manual that comes with it is absolutely useless...including how to open the back. I almost broke it with the instructions trying to open it while pressing on the lower right corner. On the Palm website there is an alternate method using two hands...works nicely. But I really congratulate you both on these posts describing how to efficiently get into this wonderful device! I am awaiting my Jabra BT530 so I can further explore your tutorial. This is indeed an amazing smartphone so far, and your discoveries are most welcome!

by Eric | Nov 19, 2008 10:53:16 AM

FdcSoft Start Menu 1.6 (http://www.dotfred.net/FdcStartMenu.htm) not only "redesigns" your start menu, it adds your Programs and Settings folders (along with every program and subfolder contained within) to your start menu.

Using FdcSoft Start Menu, I am able to launch any program in my Programs folder with voice command regardless of whether it is on my Windows Mobile start menu.

Awesome feature.

by Bob | Nov 20, 2008 12:42:15 PM

Thanks Gary for the extra tip on how to open the back of the Treo Pro. I thought I was the only one too dumb to figure it out. Couldn't make the two hand method work, but the two thumbs method does. Great device, poor documentation.

by Palm Not "Pro" At All | Nov 20, 2008 1:34:55 PM

Shabby design

Difficulty for users involving the battery door is not "Pro"

Strictly amateur, no wonder Palm is failing financially and in the marketplace.

by Mark Sheats | Jan 10, 2009 10:20:55 PM

I'm glad I'm not the only one that had trouble opening the battery compartment, and that's the first thing you have to do! I was stuck until I found that method online for using two hands. I didn't want to break my new phone!

Andrew, excellent introduction to the Voice Command feature. I was able to follow it the first time through without any trouble at all, and everything worked immediately. Thanks for enduring the bad documentation and giving us excellent documentation. Any chance you plan to publish this, or put it in a downloadable PDF file?

Also, is there some way that we can request new commands, or find out a complete list of commands? For example, I'd like to say, "Turn Bluetooth off."

by Nanette McCann | Mar 29, 2009 3:09:18 AM

I realize I am a little late with my comment in comparison to the rest of you but I just wanted to say thanks for posting this information. I now LOVE voice command and see numerous uses for it. I hate having to stop what I am doing to find a phone number for a contact. Now voice command makes that the easiest thing in the world.

by remlad | May 24, 2009 5:02:06 AM

Greetings, I thank you kindly for the voice command tutorial. I spent over three hours trying to sus out how to use the voice command and searching unsuccessfully the wbefore I stumbled upon this guidance. In fact, I was just minutes away from buying another voice command software as I thought maybe it needed an add-on.

Thanks again.

by madvek | May 24, 2009 10:20:54 AM

Let me add my thanks for a job well done! I just received my Treo Pro last week and am getting up to speed. I have had voice command on past phones, but all were pretty lame compared to this one.

You have the best information on the web about this great feature. Thanks again!

by Neil C | Oct 27, 2009 8:12:43 PM

Great job, thanks. Do you know how I can hang up via voice command (or the headset button, perhaps) rather than using the handset button? I can't figure it out.

by Kat | Nov 1, 2009 8:05:00 PM

Thanks for the info with Voice Command. Although voice command works great for the most 0art my treo wont announce incoming calls. Is this commom as I used this function the most with previous treos. Ive had my phone for about three months. I am really disappointed that incoming arent not announced while all other voice commands options work. Now I ddont want the treo if this feature doesnt work. Is there a patch for this. Thanks Kat

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