iOS 8 Beta 4: Voice to Text Goes Real Time

The newly released iOS 8 Beta 4 brings real-time voice-to-text functionality to the iPhone for the first time. A video demo of the feature is in action below. This new iOS 8 feature is very similar to the Android dictation feature we’ve seen for years.

In iOS 7, the microphone button to the left of the space bar on the keyboard is hampered because the user must wait several seconds before seeing the transcription appear on the iPhone’s display. This is because iOS 7 sends chunks of recordings up to Apple’s servers and then waits to retrieve the transcription. That means the iPhone user must pause every 30 seconds or so to let the dictation┬áservice to run. Another problem with this is that the user can’t see any errors and correct them before moving on to their next thought. Occasionally the service just doesn’t work and the user has to speak again or simply tap out the text with their fingers.

I updated my Sprint iPhone 5s to iOS 8 Beta 4 the other day and tried the service out. As you can see in the above video, iOS 8 types out the words I’m speaking in near real-time. For this demo, I set up my LG G3 to transcribe a note at the same time.

As you can see in the video, neither iOS 8 or Android transcribes my voice perfectly, but that’s okay with me. The way I typically use dictation apps and services is to create rough drafts on my phones that I can edit before sharing. The incorrect transcriptions on both iOS 8 and Android are similar to what you might experience when you type text messages too quickly and auto correct goes a little nuts. Voice transcription services like the ones in iOS 8 and Android won’t skip words if they’re not sure what you meant to say. Instead, the services will just put in their best guesses.

This is the text transcription from the Android phone:

When I speak with my voice I’m able to get a lot of work done while I’m on the go. That means I don’t have to use my thumbs to type and I can actually speak with my voice faster than I can type out messages and drafts. It looks like iOS update data for is fairly accurate and it looks like an Android pretty well that’s really impressive!

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And this is the text transcription from the iPhone 5s with iOS 8 Beta 4:

When I speak with my voice I’m able to get a lot of work done while I’m on the go. That means I don’t have to use my thumbs to type and I can actually speak with my boys faster than I can type out messages and drafts using my thumbs. It looks like I was a bit of four is fairly accurate and it looks like it can keep up with android pretty well that’s really impressive!

Obviously iOS 8 is still in beta, so it’s not fair to nitpick at the transcription errors. As you can see, the Android has mistakes as well, but both are a great way to start email and message drafts.

iOS 8 will be released this fall alongside the iPhone 6 and possibly other new Apple hardware.

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