Voice Dictation and Voice Typing: Enabling and Free Software

Blue vintage microphone with transcription text representing voice dictation services.
Embrace voice dictation and typing by discovering software that revolutionizes text transcription.

Transkriptor 2024-01-17

Dictation is an assistive technology (AT)  tool that helps people when writing is challenging. Dictation services convert spoken words into a text. Speech-to-text technology allows users to type with the voice without using a keyboard or having handwriting.

There are 2 main benefits of dictation; facilitating multitasking and increasing accessibility. Users dictate a note, email, message with dictation software while performing another task. Speech to text technology helps people with disabilities and injuries that prevent them from writing.

Dictation software stands for a general term for the different types of software that converts voice to text. Speech to text is a type of speech recognition software that recognizes and converts spoken words into text. Transcription software converts speech or audio into a written document.

There are plenty of useful dictation software on different platforms and devices like Google Docs, Apple, Windows and Xiaomi. The best dictation software include Apple Dictation, Windows 10 Speech Recognition and Google Docs voice typing. Apple Dictation app offers a free dictation service to Apple devices like Mac and iPhone users while Windows 10 Speech Recognition is for Windows users.

What is Voice Dictation?

Voice dictation, often referred to as speech recognition or voice-to-text, is a technology that converts spoken language into written text. Most people use them for tasks like writing emails, composing documents, or even for accessibility purposes. Voice dictation helps individuals with writing and listening disabilities. Voice dictation facilitates professionals in crafting emails, taking notes and reports.

Students who are more comfortable with written materials in the learning process dictate lecture notes while teachers prepare lecture contents by using voice dictation. People use speech recognition software in everyday tasks such as sending text messages, setting reminders, or searching the web using voice commands.

People in the business industry use voice dictation for various purposes, including transcribing meetings, composing emails, and improving data entry efficiency. It is important to know how to enable voice typing on the phone to ease routine activities.

Speech recognition technology made major strides in the 1970s, thanks to interest and funding from the U.S. Department of Defense. The vocabulary of voice recognition increased from a few hundred to several thousand words. Computers with faster processors developed and voice dictation software became available to the public in the 1990S.

Man on a smartphone interacting with voice recognition technology for easy dictation and typing.
Experience seamless voice dictation and typing for efficient text input on our app.

What Does Dictation Mean?

Dictation refers to the action of dictating words to be typed or written down. It originates from the Latin word “dictātiōn". Its first known use was in 1624 according to the Merriam-Webster.

There are many dictation apps that provide online speech to text service. It is very easy to convert speech to text in Windows 10, Windows 11 computers and MacBooks thanks to dictation apps.

What Does Voice to Text Mean?

Voice to text is a form of software that turns the spoken word into written language, and it was initially created as an assistive technology for the hearing impaired. Voice to text and dictation have some minor differences in their scope and automation.

Voice to text is a broader term, encompassing automated processes that convert spoken language into text, while dictation specifically involves verbally delivering content for transcription. Voice-to-text technology is  traced back to the introduction of IBM's "Shoebox" device in 1961.

What Does Speech to Text Mean?

Speech to text, known as speech recognition, is a speech recognition technology that enables the recognition and translation of spoken language into text through computational linguistics. First occurrence of speech recognition technology which led to speech to text and voice to text technologies was in 1952. Bell Laboratories created the “Audrey” system, which was the first known and documented speech recognizer. Audrey recognizes strings of spoken digits if the user paused in between.

Speech to text technology often refers to the action of transcription, while voice to text resembles voice assistants (e.g., Siri, Google Assistant), to perform actions such as sending messages or online searches.

How to Enable Voice Typing (Dictation) on Windows 11 and Windows 10?

To enable voice typing on Windows 11 and Windows 10,  follow the steps below.

  1. Press Windows logo key + H on a hardware keyboard.
  2. Press the microphone key next to the Spacebar on the touch keyboard.

Voice typing uses online speech recognition technologies to power its speech-to-text transcription service  like dictation. An individual no longer needs to turn on the Online Speech recognition setting to use voice typing.

Voice typing allows individuals to enter text on their PC by speaking. Computer enthusiasts add a language to use a voice typing language that is different from the display language for Windows.

iPhone settings screens showing steps to enable dictation for voice typing.
Turn on voice dictation on iPhone to start typing with your voice instantly.

How to Enable Voice Typing (Dictation) on Mac?

To enable voice typing on Mac, follow the steps below.

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Settings, then click Keyboard  in the sidebar.
  2. Go to Dictation on the right, then turn it on. If a window appears, click Enable.

Many languages support dictation on a Mac. The best part is no internet connection required to process dictation requests. There is no time limit that restricts the length of the dictation. Voice typing stops automatically after 30 seconds, or it is possible to turn off dictation manually.

Screenshot showing the voice typing option under the 'Tools' menu on Google Docs.
Enable voice typing with a simple menu selection to dictate text effortlessly on Docs.

How to Enable Voice Typing (Dictation) on iPhone?

To enable voice typing on an iPhone, simply follow these two steps.

  1. Go to Settings  > General > Keyboard.
  2. Turn on Enable Dictation. If a prompt appears, tap Enable Dictation.

Dictation allows one to convert speech into text in any text-entry field on an iPhone. Moreover, the keyboard remains accessible during dictation, which enables a transition between voice and touch inputs. The feature is particularly useful when one wishes to replace selected text.

How to Enable Voice Typing (Dictation) on Xiaomi Phones?

To enable voice typing (dictation) on a Xiaomi phone, follow the steps below.

  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Click on Additional settings
  3. Go to Languages & input
  4. Tap on Manage keyboards
  5. Enable Google voice typing

Enabling voice typing is very similar to other Android devices like Samsung since Xiaomi uses the Android operating system. Enabling voice typing is very similar to other Android devices like Samsung since Xiaomi uses the Android operating system. The microphone icon on the keyboard allows dictation.

Interface of Transkriptor software displaying a conversation transcription with speaker identification.
Discover effortless transcription with Transkriptor, organized files on Transkriptor.

How to Enable Voice Typing (Dictation) on Google Docs?

To enable dictation on Google Docs, follow these steps.

  1. Go to ‘Tools’ at the top
  2. Click ‘Voice Typing’
  3. Click the ‘Microphone’ button
  4. Click ‘Allow’
  5. Speak what Google Docs wants to type.

Google Docs and Google Slides speaker notes allow users to type and edit by speaking. The feature works with the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari browsers.

How to Turn off Voice Typing?

To deactivate voice typing, follow these steps.

  1. Click to the Windows “Start” menu.
  2. Go to the “Settings”
  3. Select “Privacy and Security”
  4. Click on “Speech” which i under the Windows permissions
  5. Make sure that the toggle button is off

Voice typing has a crucial role in improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. Theis technology enhances communication, productivity, and independence. Dictation allows individuals with hearing impairments to understand audio content.

Voice typing helps individuals with motor disabilities by converting the verbal communication to written text. Speech to text technology enables people with disabilities to generate documents, emails, or messages without manual writing or typing.

What are the Possible Errors for Voice Typing?

The possible errors for voice typing are listed below.

  • Noise Interference: Background noises interfere with the software's ability to accurately recognize words, leading to transcription errors.
  • Homophones : The software confuses words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings (e.g., "two," "to," and "too").
  • Accents and Dialects: Voice typing misinterprets strong accents or regional dialects, which results in misinterpretations.
  • Rapid Speech : Speaking too quickly causes the software to miss words or interpret them incorrectly.
  • Technical Vocabulary and Jargon: Dictation does not recognize specialized or uncommon terms correctly.
  • Multiple Speakers: The software has difficulty in distinguishing between multiple people who are speaking simultaneously.
  • Connectivity Issues : Dictation systems that work with cloud-based processing, poor internet connectivity result in errors or delays.
  • Software Limitations : Not all voice dictation systems have the same level of sophistication. Some of them have limited vocabularies and struggle with more complex sentences.

How to Make Talk to Type (Voice Dictation) Software more efficient?

To make talk to type (voice dictation) software more efficient, there are important tips. They allow users to fully benefit from voice dictation and increase the performance.

  • Ensure to be in a quiet environment with minimal background noise. This reduces errors in transcription.
  • Invest in a good-quality microphone or headset with noise-canceling features. This enhances accuracy.
  • Pronounce the words clearly and speak at a moderate, consistent pace. Avoid speaking too fast or too slowly.
  • Spend some time training the talk-to-type software to recognize the voice and speech patterns. Most software allows for this.
  • Learn and use voice commands for punctuation and formatting (e.g., "comma," "new paragraph"). This helps structure the text.

Dictating in a quiet environment or using a noise-canceling microphone drastically reduces errors. It's beneficial to speak clearly and consistently, using punctuation commands for optimal transcription. It is easy to dictate punctuation and start a new paragraph by saying "period," "comma," "new line," "new paragraph," or whatever other action users need.

Users must actively correct transcription mistakes to help  the software's learning process. Regular software updates ensure users benefit from the latest improvements. Thinking about what to say before speaking helps avoid pauses and prevents saying ‘um.. ah… know…’ which is incorrect word recognition.

Is There any Risk of Using "Voice Texting"?

Yes, using voice texting carries several risks along with its usefulness and efficiency. Users must  know that the software may not transcribe the speech with perfect accuracy when users enable voice texting. Misinterpretation of commands causes problems in a conversation.

Issues such as background noise, accents, pronunciation, grammar, punctuation, or formatting reduce accuracy. Privacy concerns are another risk of voice texting in addition to accuracy issues.

What is the Best Dictation Software?

The best dictation software are listed below.

  1. Transkriptor
  2. Google's Voice Typing
  3. Windows Speech Recognition
  4. Apple's Dictation
  5. Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  6. Dictation.io

Mac system preferences window showing the dictation option toggled on for voice input.
Activate dictation on Mac to streamline typing and command input with ease.

Transkriptor is a transcription software that transcribes the meetings, interviews, lectures, and other conversations. Transkriptor offers a voice to text service that converts both pre-recorded and cloud audio content into text. It automatically transcripts for meetings conducted on platforms like Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet. Users are able to record audio directly through Transkriptor and obtain a transcript of their recording.

Google's Voice Typing is a free tool integrated into Google Docs and provides a simple way to dictate text directly into a document. It's available on any device that supports Google Docs and recognizes multiple languages.

Windows Speech Recognition dictation software is available on Windows operating systems. It controls the user’s computer with voice commands.

Apple's Dictation offers basic voice typing features. The basic free version is quite competent for everyday tasks while there's an enhanced (paid) version.

Dragon is suitable for a variety of tasks, including document creation and desktop control.

Dictation.io is a web-based platform that's simple to use and doesn't require any installation. It offers basic dictation capabilities and serves in multiple languages.

What are the Advantages of Dictation?

The advantages of dictation are listed below.

  • Efficiency and Speed: Dictation allows users to transcribe information or capture ideas more quickly since speaking is often faster than typing.
  • Accessibility: Dictation offers an invaluable alternative for computer interaction for individuals with physical disabilities or conditions that make typing challenging.
  • Multitasking: Dictation fosters multitasking since users are able to dictate notes, messages, or documents while simultaneously engaging in other tasks.
  • Language Learning: Dictation software often supports multiple languages, making it a tool for practicing pronunciation and learning new languages.
  • Documentation: Dictation streamline the process of creating detailed and comprehensive documents in professions where accurate record-keeping is essential, such as in medical or legal fields.

Are there any Artificial Intelligence Dictation Tools?

Yes, one of the most useful capabilities provided by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is intelligent transcription software, which automatically converts audio and video files into text. AI dictation tools utilize natural language processing (NLP).

The branch of AI focuses on equipping computers with the capability to understand, analyze, and interpret human language. NLP is an interdisciplinary domain, merging methodologies from linguistics and computer science.(There are many great AI dictation software and services available to any user such as Speak AI, Trint, Otter.ai, MeetGeek, and many more)

What are the Disadvantages of Dictation?

The disadvantages of dictation are listed below.

  • Accuracy Issues: Text dictation does not always transcribe speech perfectly, leading to mistakes in the text.
  • Language and Accent Limitations: Voice to text software sometimes struggle with understanding diverse accents or regional dialects.
  • Background Noise: Dictation is less effective in noisy environments since background sounds interfere with voice recognition.
  • Over-reliance: Consistent use of voice transcription software diminishes a user's traditional writing or typing skills.

What is the Difference between Dictation and Transcription?

The difference between dictation vs transcription are in their way of processing information  and purposes. Dictation involves a speaker verbally articulating their thoughts. Transcription involves the conversion of pre-recorded or live audio content into written text.

The primary purpose of dictation is to streamline the process of creating documents, letters, or reports by efficiently translating spoken words into written form.Transcription services encompass various fields such as medical, legal, or general transcription. Transcription often requires specialized knowledge and formatting to accurately capture and transcribe the content, making it suitable for a broader range of applications beyond simple document creation.

How Does Voice Typing Work?

Voice typing works by using speech recognition technology, allowing users to dictate their thoughts or commands. The process begins when a user speaks into a microphone, which is the primary hardware equipment utilized.

Algorithms filter out background noises, assess pitch, tone, and pace, and match spoken phonemes to a vast database within this software.

Advanced algorithms and Natural Language Processing (NLP) ensure the recognized words fit grammatically and contextually into sentences. The system improves by learning from user interactions and corrections, continually refining its accuracy over time, as the best voice to text software incorporates machine learning.

Why is Speech Recognition Important for Dictation?

Speech recognition is important for dictation because it is the underlying technology that allows spoken words to be converted into text. Mobile devices, smart speakers, or computers are able to listen to what the user is saying with voice recognition technology. Many industries including law, healthcare and education utilize speech recognition . It helps in everyday activities like dictating a shopping list, daily tasks, and sending a message.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are several free voice dictation tools available, which offer basic to advanced voice typing functionalities without any cost.

Yes, Transkriptor can be used for voice dictation. It's designed to convert spoken language into written text, making it suitable for various transcription needs.

Many voice dictation tools support multiple languages, allowing users to dictate in different languages based on the software's capabilities.

Voice dictation software can significantly improve productivity by allowing for faster text entry, hands-free typing, and multitasking capabilities.

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