Speech to Text App
by Alan German
One of the
problems with smartphones is their tiny keyboards - and
their even tinier keys! For those of us who are getting a
little older, just seeing the keys can be a problem, but
actually pressing the one we want can simply be an
exercise in frustration.
complaining about this issue to a friend who said why
don't I just use the speech to text feature by pressing
the microphone button on the drop-down keyboard. Great
idea - but, there was no microphone button on my phone's
In their wisdom, the manufacturer of my smartphone chose
to install a custom keyboard, and this doesn't have any
speech to text capability. However, this problem was
quickly resolved. A Google search for speech to text
applications for Android identified many candidate apps,
including one from Google itself - Google Keyboard.
Google Keyboard is a free download from Google Play, so I
downloaded the app, installed it, and used it to replace
my phone's default keyboard.
The application provides several options for text input -
in one of 25 languages if need be. Obviously, it
functions as a normal keyboard, complete with the usual
tiny keys, but it also allows spelling out words by
swiping across the keyboard - a process that Google calls
Gesture Typing. It has both word recognition and
next-word prediction as you type. So, after typing just a
few letters, one click will often allow selection of the
entire word. Another feature, that may be of interest to
some users, is the ability to call up screens full of
emojis - the "smiley face" icons - and insert
these into the text.
However, the best part of all is Google Keyboard's
ability to do voice recognition and translate speech into
text. Using this feature one can compose text and E-mail
messages, and even write an entire document, without
having to use the on-screen keyboard as a text-entry
device. And, what is really amazing is that, without any
training, the voice recognition system is incredibly
As an example, I opened Jota Text Editor, my favourite
Android app for producing, editing, and saving text
documents. The on-screen keyboard appeared below the
editor's display window (see Figure). However, note the
microphone control button in the top-right corner of the
keyboard display (immediately above the "P"
I pressed this key and said: "Press the microphone
button comma then just talk and the text appears on the
screen period". The result, as shown in the
screenshot, is self-evident.
So, if you need to send me a text message indicating that
you will buy me a beer at Liam Maguire's, or have a
burning desire to dictate an article for Ottawa PC News
on your smartphone, the voice input feature of Google
Keyboard may be just what you need!
Google Keyboard (Free)
Originally published: June, 2015
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.