Windows Phone 8 and Cora

With any new technology comes a period where you feel uncomfortable. I had that feeling when moving to Windows Phone 8. That said, once I played with Visual Studio 2012 for a few minutes and tinkered with some samples from the Windows Phone Dev Center, I discovered it’s “awesome.”

Also, I’m very happy that Microsoft released a Speech-To-Text (STT) and Text-To-Speech (TTS) API with the release of Windows Phone 8. Why should this matter to you? Four words, “free asynchronous server calls.”

When first designing Cora I explored many different providers of voice recognition and TTS. Many of the providers were too costly, premature, or limited.

In time, I discovered that Nuance Software released a mobile SDK for Windows Phone 7 and was offering 500,000 production licenses per app on a per device model (for free). This was fantastic! The dream of Cora could now be created so I got to work.

Once Cora was “good enough for Beta testers,” I released it for Beta testing through the Windows Phone Dev Center (I learned a lot from that experience and to those of you that helped during the Beta testing period, “thank you”). Then after some rework and performance tuning, Cora was submitted for certification (it reminded me of that moment in “Indie Game: The Movie” when Edmund McMillen and Jonathan Blow released Super Meat Boy for Microsoft certification).

A few days passed and then I received that email, you know the one; Cora passed certification and was now available.

I immediately downloaded Cora from the link in Windows Phone Dev Center and began to test her. After putting Cora through the usual tests, I asked her several questions and then was prompted with a, “You are not authorized to use this service. Note: Please contact an administrator.” What was this? I had been rigorously testing with the Nuance production license keys (500,000 unique device licenses) for Cora prior to submitting the app to the marketplace and never once received this error. This was an unfortunate surprise.

As anyone may do in that scenario, I contacted “an Administrator,” a week later a representative from Nuance responded and said that their policy was 500,000 unique devices but only 20 server requests per day per device. Since Cora was built for speech interaction this was and still is very sad. As you can imagine it was months of work simply to be, “turned off” without any documentation prior from Nuance stating that this was the production agreement. Why would the Nuance production keys used during development and Beta testing allow unlimited STT and TTS calls? It’s largely a mystery and recent follow-ups with Nuance have proven unsuccessful.

In short, lesson learned and I am happy to announce that Cora is now being rewritten using Microsoft’s Speech-To-Text (STT) and Text-To-Speech (TTS) API. The results of the early versions of Cora for Windows Phone 8 are breathtaking. Cora is now faster, smarter, and more beautiful than ever.

I can’t wait for the world to be reintroduced to Cora for Windows Phone 8.

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