Android’s voice software is easy to customise and is already ready to use RIGHT NOW on your Android phone. There’s no need to scour the Android market for decent speech-to-text software because you already have access to it. It’s also unlikely you’ll need to find a paid alternative because this works quite well. I think you’ll be surprised.
Set Correct Dictionaries
First, make sure your phone is set up to use the correct dictionaries. Go to Settings > Voice Input and Output Settings.
Choose Voice Recognizer Settings > Language. You can fine-tune the input language not just with basic language differences, but with local accents. Your Android can differentiate between Canadian English and American English, even if most of the rest of the world can’t. I’m clearly in need of the Australian English variety, myself.
For the text-to-speech (TTS) capabilities you’ll need to go into Text-To-Speech Settings > Language. There’s not as much choice as for speech input, but you can at least pick from a few popular languages and accents. Test out the speech synthesizer by clicking Listen To An Example. Here is also where you can change the speech rate and lock in your settings to ensure applications don’t override them with their own settings. To do this, check the box for Always Use My Settings. Note that to use text-to-speech the application will need to have been written to support it.
How To Use Android Speech-To-Text Capabilities
Right, now you should have a go at using your voice features. To use your voice to write something, head to any application, find a text field and bring up the keyboard control for entering text.
Then, just to the left of the space bar you’ll see a button with a microphone and two letters indicating your language input settings. Hold that button down and your phone will ask for voice input rather than keyboard input. If you don’t hold it down long enough you will see a menu where you can change the language. This is also a useful feature, but not what you’re after right now.
A window will pop up saying “Speak Now“. Speak into the phone clearly and use full sentences. When you want to use punctuation you’ll need to speak the name of the punctuation mark. Sadly, despite my Aussie settings I still needed to use American punctuation mark terminology. So, to enter a full stop (a.k.a. a period) you’ll say “Period” to get the punctuation mark entered.
What Else Can You Do With Speech in Android?
For starters, remember that this speech-to-text function is available anywhere you can use the keyboard. That’s pretty versatile! You could dictate whole blog posts by sending yourself an email to edit later.
Android 2.2 (Froyo) also lets users search Google using speech and to use voice commands — Grab this Google Voice Search application to get going and check out this post for more information. You can even phone friends using speech only. Some applications are voice-compatible and will allow you to enter commands using your voice. This leads to some nifty ideas: think about how useful brainstorming could be with a to-do list which understands voice commands and lets you enter text with your voice. If you’re just getting into using voice on your phone, you should also read about The 5 Coolest Voice Apps For Your Android Phone.
How does Android‘s speech-to-text suit you? Does it save you time? Does it understand your accent? What do you use it for? Let us know in the comments!