The quickest and easiest way to enter text into an edit field is by speaking into your device. Google voice recognition is surprisingly accurate, and for major languages, it works both on- and offline. This post covers how to dictate text instead of typing.
To start dictation, explore to the Voice Input button, located above the P on the Google keyboard, and double-tap. The device chimes to indicate it is listening. Speak in a conversational tone, enunciating clearly, as if you were on a job interview. When you finish speaking, wait for another chime, which indicates the device has stopped listening.
For best results, keep the following in mind when using voice recognition:
- Speak as long as you want. The device keeps listening as long as you keep talking. It stops listening after about 5 seconds of silence, and it may stop sooner if you pause frequently.
- Speak punctuation. Say the names of punctuation marks, pausing briefly before and after the punctuation and dropping the tone and volume of your voice slightly (e.g., I like cake, comma, ice cream, comma, and cookies, period). Experiment with various symbols and with phrases like “blank line” and “new paragraph.” These vary with the system language. If you don’t say the names of punctuation marks, no punctuation is added to the text you dictate.
- Speak in a relatively quiet environment. If there’s background noise, speak close to the microphone, which is usually near the bottom of the phone, where your mouth would be if you were taking a call. If TalkBack is likely to interrupt dictation with incoming notifications or other status messages, turn the screen reader volume down. Volume should be low enough that your voice is definitely louder, but high enough for you to hear it.
- Cover the device speaker if TalkBack speaks what is being typed. If you’re running Android 4.1, TalkBack speaks all the new text that appears in the edit field as you dictate. This creates a loop: TalkBack says X; it appears in the edit field; TalkBack says it again; it appears again; and so on. Sometimes the solution to this problem is to simply turn TalkBack down to a fairly low volume. Other times, you need to cover the audio speakers with the pad or side of your index finger after the listening chime is played. Speakers are usually on the back of the device near the bottom. A third option is to use earphones when dictating.
In relatively quiet environments, the stop-listening chime is played about 5 seconds after you stop speaking. In noisier environments, however, the chime may never play on its own. To stop dictation, do one of the following:
- Use the TalkBack Back gesture (down then left). This stops dictation without playing a stop-listening chime. It also removes the keyboard from the screen. You can double-tap the Back button instead, but this produces verbal feedback that is added to the dictation.
- Double-tap the Pause Listening button. This is a relatively large area that is located near the bottom of the screen, above the home button. Explore to it; then practice double-tapping it. When you do, the keyboard does not return; instead, what appears is a dictation screen.
When dictation stops on its own or as a result of double-tapping the Pause Listening button, the dictation screen appears. It contains the following items, which cannot be swiped to:
- A language dropdown list (below the edit field)—tap to choose the recognition language.
- Tap to speak button (below the language dropdown)—tap to continue dictation. You may move the cursor to another part of the edit field before tapping this button. The Pause Listening button is located in the same area.
- Keyboard Entry (to the left of the Language dropdown)—double-tap to return to the keyboard. This button sometimes needs to be tapped repeatedly.
Ensure Offline Speech Recognition
To use dictation without an internet connection, download the recognition data for your language.
- Tap the Search item at the top of the home screen. When the app launches, use the Back gesture or Back button to remove the on-screen keyboard.
- Tap Menu in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, above the Android buttons.
- Tap Settings>Voice>Offline Speech Recognition.
- Tap the All Languages Dropdown; then tap the desired language, and follow any prompts.
Voice recognition is now available offline. You don’t have to do anything special to use it.