Developer: Excuse Me Services, Inc.
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.1103

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Apple has been criticized for leaving gaps in the feature set of the iPhone that other Smart-phones have had for years. None is more apparent than the lack of voice-dialing which seems ironic given that California recently passed a bill to make hands-free phone use mandatory in cars.

Several 3rd party developers have rushed in to provide solutions, many starting off at a high price point, or using less desirable server-based speech recognition. Of the few I have tried so far, Excuse Me Services’ Say Who-Dialer has been the most impressive for both it’s simplicity and accuracy. And what is surprising is that it does this all for FREE.

Granted, the app is not one of the most beautiful, nor does it have flashy animation or controls, but it doesn’t need them. This is an app that you don’t want to be looking at, you want it to work without having to look down at your iPhone.

There are really only 2 controls for Say Who, plus an additional button which brings up a help screen. One is a toggle for autodial, which gives you the option of letting Say Who dial the number it thinks you want with a 5 second delay. If you turn this option off, Say Who presents you with a list of choices. Press one and the dialing proceeds. Otherwise the interface is simply one large, blue button that you hold down while speaking the name of the person you wants to call. The latest update to the app added an audio and vibration cue to let you know that the app has started listening once the button is pressed, and again when it has stopped after you release the button. If you are looking at the screen, you will notice it turns red while listening. The feedback is important if you are not looking at the screen, and also because it takes a second for the microphone to initialize.

In my testing, the recognition was nearly flawless when using a contact’s name, even recognizing prefixes such as Dr. If your contact has multiple numbers, you can narrow the results by saying “home” or “mobile” after the contact’s name. If you add the “Nickname” field to a contact’s entry, Say Who will even read from that. They even suggest you can put in words like “one” and “two” for a makeshift speed-dial. You can also dial numbers that are not in your address book by dictating the numbers. Strangely, this proved to be less accurate in my daily usage. I expected numbers to be easier to recognize, but in my testing Say Who recognized the numbers I said in 1 out of 4 attempts. Results improved somewhat if I only dictated 7 numbers (no area code).

For a free application, I think this does a great job of hands-free dialing. Assuming that most people dial numbers already in their address book, the number recognition problems seem minor, and hopefully will improve with updates.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews, Utilities

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