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GitHub Kills 'Copilot Voice' Tool

GitHub is ending the technical preview of its Copilot Voice tool, today announcing the speech tech originally dubbed "Hey GitHub!" will not become a company product.

Some of the functionality of the tool will be carried forward in a similar tool from GitHub owner Microsoft, and perhaps in GitHub's own Copilot Chat tool as well.

The Copilot Voice preview, part of the company's GitHub Next initiative, has been a long time running, as way back in November 2022 GitHub announced "An experiment from GitHub Next: 'Hey, GitHub!' enables voice-based interaction with GitHub Copilot, enabling the benefits of an AI pair programmer while reducing the need for a keyboard."

Today, GitHub announced the demise of the project in an email to people who had signed up for the technical preview, which is slated to end on April 3.

'Hey GitHub' in Action
[Click on image for larger view.] 'Hey GitHub' in Action (circa 2022) (source: Microsoft).

While natural human speech is increasingly being used to work with tools like Copilot Chat to enable voice-powered coding, the company said its Copilot Voice tool was primarily an accessibility offering that targeted developers who have difficulty using the keyboard and mouse.

The company said it had been working with Microsoft's dev team for the VS Code Speech extension and shared information to help enhance that tool.

"We realize VS Code Speech doesn't offer full feature parity with Copilot Voice and understand the conclusion of the Copilot Voice technical preview may be disappointing," the email said. "While not a perfect path of continuity, we can't emphasize the value of any further feedback you can provide to the VS Code Speech team enough. They want to hear from you as they continue to evolve the product, so please do share any feedback you may have to help drive their work forward."

Indeed, Microsoft's VS Code team has been hard at work with its own version of speech tech, just last week releasing an update that provides dictation functionality. That followed an update that lets a developer kick off a Copilot Chat session simply by saying "Hey, Code."

Voice Dictation in Action
Voice Dictation in Action (source: Ramel).

"We've added new commands to start and stop editor dictation: Voice: Start Dictation in Editor (Ctrl+Alt+V) and Voice: Stop Dictation in Editor (Escape)," Microsoft said in announcing VS Code v1.87 last week. "You can press and hold the keybinding for the start command (Ctrl+Alt+V) to enable walky-talky mode, where the voice recognition stops as soon as you release the keys."

As far as GitHub goes, it might have abandoned the project because of the success of its GitHub Copilot Chat tool, the debut of which prompted the company to earlier this year declare "Just as GitHub was founded on Git, today we are re-founded on Copilot" and also proclaim, "A core piece of our AI-powered developer platform is GitHub Copilot Chat, which enables the rise of natural language as the new universal programming language."

The Chat tool has been making waves, and as was just proven today, when used in the Visual Studio IDE it can help a "citizen developer" quickly spin up a data-driven WinForms desktop app, bringing the sophistication of advanced dev tooling to "ordinary business users" who can finally move beyond the low-code space thanks to AI.

The GitHub Copilot Voice extension still in the VS Code Marketplace, marked as a Preview, has been installed more than 142,000 times. Microsoft's VS Code Speech extension has been installed more than 54,000 times.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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