Feed Reader is one of my favorite apps on Windows Phone and Windows 8, and the latest update for the former adds a killer new feature: voice commands. The app taps into Windows Phone 8’s new speech API to provide a very convenient hands-free news reading experience, and it also includes support for lock screen notifications/details and improved live tiles.
Here’s how it works. At any time, hold down the Start button (or press a button on your Bluetooth headset) to launch Windows Phone 8’s voice command feature and say “Feed Reader, read news” or “Feed Reader, read starred items.” If you’re not sure what to say, you can also tap on the question mark icon, swipe over to apps, and then tap on Feed Reader. Once you give the command, Feed Reader will immediately start up and begin reading the latest headlines from your RSS feeds. Of course, you can also launch voice commands by pressing the app’s Play Audio button at any time.
The app will pause after each headline is read, allowing you to issue one of any number of follow-up commands like “details,” “next,” “star item,” etc. You can also say “help” for more information. While the initial release contains the most crucial commands, a second update will be made available in the very near future with additional commands and a few bug fixes. There are sixteen commands in all, including “stop,” “mark unread,” “send to Pocket,” “send to Instapaper,” “go back,” “exit app,” “previous,” “feed name,” and “author,” as well as the four that were previously mentioned. Users prone to frustration might discover some surprises as well.
I’ve been using Feed Reader’s voice commands for about a week, and it works very well. I get about 800-1,200 new items in my RSS feeds every day, and while having headlines read aloud isn’t quite as fast as skimming, it allows me to go through the items while driving, playing a game, or performing any other task. Can Siri do that? I think not. It works under the lock screen too, so you can safely put the phone in a dock or in your pocket.
The latest version of Feed Reader for Windows Phone 8 adds a bunch of impressive features to an already impressive app. Feed Reader is available in both the free ad-supported and paid variety, and you can pick up its sister app on Windows 8 as well.
Download: Windows Phone Store
Update: The developer has posted a video of how it works as well.