Windows 11 has a new preview build which further improves Voice Access, an area Microsoft has been putting a lot of effort into of late.
Preview build 22635.2915 (KB5033456) has just been rolled out to the Beta channel, and one of the additions is the ability to make customized voice shortcuts.
Using this feature, you can specify a trigger phrase for the command, and then the command itself.
Microsoft gives an example of an ‘insert work address’ command which when given automatically pastes in the specified address of your workplace. Anytime you need that putting into a document you’re working on, you just say the command – which is quite the timesaver.
Language support for Voice Access has also been extended, and now the following are included (on top of the existing languages): French (France), French (Canada), German, Spanish (Spain) and Spanish (Mexico).
Finally for voice features, multiple monitors are now supported, meaning that when you summon a grid overlay – for directing mouse clicks to certain areas of the desktop – you can do so on any of the screens connected to your PC. (Before now, the grid overlay could only be used on the primary display).
You can switch your focus to another monitor simply by using a letter (A, B, C and so on) or its phonetic equivalent (Alpha, Bravo, etc).
Microsoft further notes that there’s a drag and drop feature to move files or shortcuts from one display to another.
Elsewhere in build 22635, screen casting in Windows 11 has been improved, with a help option now in the Cast flyout from Quick Settings. This can be clicked if you’re having trouble piping your desktop to another screen and want some troubleshooting advice.
Users are also getting the ability to rename their device for the Nearby Sharing feature to help identify it more easily.
For the full list of changes and fixes in this Beta build, peruse Microsoft’s blog post.
Analysis: Custom capers
This is some useful work with Voice Access, and those with multiple monitors who use the feature will of course be very pleased, no doubt. Voice shortcuts is a powerful addition into the mix for voice functionality, too, and with this, there are a good deal of options.
Not just pasting a section of text as we mention in the example above, but also tasks can be triggered such as opening specified URLs in a browser, or opening a file or folder. You can combine multiple actions too, along with functions like mouse clicks or key presses. This is a feature we’ve been wanting for some time, so it’s great to see it arrive.
It’s also worth noting that Windows Speech Recognition has been removed from Windows 11 in this build, and when you open that old app, you’ll now get a message informing you of its deprecation, and recommending the far superior Voice Access capability instead.
We’re hoping that in the future, Voice Access is going to become an even more central part of the Windows 11 interface, and it seems a great candidate to be driven forward with AI – and maybe incorporated into Copilot.