Translation and Speech in Windows Phone 8.1


  • Many lessons learned today when developing for Windows Phone 8.1 rather than Phone 8.0. The jump from 8.0 to 8.1 feels as big as I hear the move from 7 to 8 was.
    Before trying any Windows Phone stuff, especially 8.1, make sure you have installed the Visual Studio 2013 Update 3. Start it running, and then go away and do something else for the 29 hours it takes to install. Once you’ve done that, come back and read on…
    The emulator thrashes the disk. Counter-intuitively, it is much quicker to attach the disk to the laptop, and debug/deploy to the device, rather than the emulator.
    You can debug the Phone (as opposed to the emulator) really easily.
    Don’t assume that because you have lots of languages for speech synthesis on your PC, you have them automatically on your Phone. There are a number of languages available, but not installed. For example, I have been downloading German and Spanish for the last 30 minutes I think (only around 20MB or so), and they are still not complete.(In fact just got to the bottom of that – it’s because (in my case anyway), Battery Saver was on. Obvious isn’t it… not)
    Good stuff is the fact that Microsoft/bing allow you 1 million characters per month of free translation, whereas Google charge for any amount.
    Let’s now go back to the start of the day…

Do I say “This looks promising” a lot? This looks promising.

Not sure how far this will get us, but first have to Register the Bing Translator Control with the Azure Data Marketplace as described here.


Once installed that takes you to a Translator Help Page.

And this looks tailor-made for my needs:


(If you don’t already have it, you need the Phone 8.1 SDK – which on a good connection takes say 30 minutes to download and install)

I thought this might happen: I’m trying to run all my Visual Studio dev in Azure. At the end of the Windows Phone SDK installation, I got this warning/error:


As this points to warnings about SLAT, and updating your BIOS, yada, and as Azure is itself a VM and the HyperV which is used as the emulator can’t support that (I’m just rushing words off, sorry for the English), then I suspected this would end in tears. This is the error when  loading the XAML for the Phone Template page:


So I now need to get off Azure for Phone dev, and back onto my local PC. Darn it.

I then built the app on my local machine, but when I started to run the emulator, I got this:


While I’m waiting for the latest Phone SDK to download on my local pc, googling points to getting a workable solution from the Mobile Services on Azure. I’ll try that in a bit.

Goodness, this is a frustrating time: I downloaded the SDK locally, could not see the rich set of templates that I see in the VM version of 2013. So I tried to copy across first the phone template, then a solution built on the phone template, but neither worked. When I then compared the Help About for the 2 copies, turns out my local 2013 is not Update 3, I’m running that now.

But my memory is running low, despite having 8GB (of which 2GB is RamDisk for Reaper).

Having done VS Update 3, which I think took about 1.5 hours to install, it has now been sitting on this image for at least 5 minutes…


this has been a fairly long day: you have to register for a translator code thing:

Ha – it isn’t entirely free:

Speech has changed in 8.1:

and usage:

Got a failure here:

Windows phone allegedly has lots of voices:

And various other screenshots from the day:

BingTranslate08   BingTranslate11 BingTranslate12


Debugging showed that by default these were the only voices on the phone:


I was able to deploy the app both to my Lumia 920 and my daughter’s Lumia … can’t remember. For hers, I did need to unlock it as a registered Phone developer, but I was pleased that I was able to do so, as that means I can write apps for any number of personal phones, without going through the Windows Store.

Not that I mind, as I have zero investment in Phone 8.0, but it is clear that matters have changed a lot. Check out this series.

This is a nice simple phone MVVM app.

Prism support for Windows Phone 8.1 seems to be happening.

And a more well-formed set of Prism QuickStarts for 8.1.

And yet more.

And Nuget of course:


Which gives this once installed:


And this cropped up again, and it cropped up again because I moved the code to a new app (doesn’t matter why, double-click because of the resolution):


So the resolution to the problem is this:


, namely you have to turn on the Microphone capability for speaking… and listening.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s