Voice Typing In Google Docs
Look, Ma, no hands! Google has added “voice typing” to its free, cloud-based Google Docs word processor. In addition to the speech-to-text as an alternative to typing, you now have control over cursor navigation and formatting options like text selection, punctuation, and copy/paste. All you need to use it is a Chrome browser, a Google account, and a microphone. Here's the scoop...
"Just Say the Word"
I love talking to my smartphone. I can dictate short emails and text messages with surprising accuracy and efficiency. But for serious word processing on my desktop, there wasn't a simple, free option that offered voice typing. Now, that has changed.
The next time you open a Google Docs file, you may see a popup asking if you want to try voice typing and navigation. If you don’t see the popup, you can click the Tools button on the menu bar and select “voice typing” from the dropdown menu. A small window like the one in the image below (voice typing.png) will appear.
English (US) is the default language; click on the language shown to see a list of several dozen supported languages. However, the new navigation and formatting options are only available in English at this time. Surprisingly, the new options are only available for desktop browsers, not mobile users.
Click on the microphone icon to toggle voice typing on or off. (The icon is red when voice typing is enabled, black when it’s turned off.) Now just start speaking what’s on your mind.
The speech recognition algorithm does a pretty good but imperfect job of guessing what you say. Spoken words appear as typewritten text quickly, but with a noticeable delay. It doesn’t take long to get comfortable with voice typing. I found that if I speak clearly, very little post-entry cleanup is necessary.
Spoken commands take a bit of memorization. You can say things like “Select next word (or line, or paragraph)” or “select last N characters” where N is the number of characters. Selected text can be formatted using commands like “delete,” “copy,” “bold,” “bullet list,” and so on. You can even change the size, font, and color of text.
Punctuation and Irritation
Punctuation can be added with commands such as "comma", “period", and "question mark". Surprisingly, speaking the phrase, “What is the orbital period of Saturn question mark” turned out just as I intended: “What is the orbital period of Saturn?” and not “What is the orbital . of Saturn?”
Wisely, “undo” is a voice command. You’ll use it often as you learn how to talk to your Google Doc. Speech recognition is still a bit squirrely, and the formatting commands don’t always work the first time. But voice typing is usable, and it will surely get better with time.
One irritating bug sometimes occurs when I close the voice-typing microphone window; my keyboard no longer has any effect on the Doc I have open. Reloading the browser page fixes that, but it should not happen even in a beta version of voice typing.
As a desktop tool, voice typing is not going to replace keyboards except for people with certain disabilities. I have friends with carpal tunnel issues who find it extremely useful. The visually impaired may find voice typing invaluable when it is combined with a screen reader. https://support.google.com/sites/answer/1637080?hl=en Mobile users may find voice typing quite useful, due to the lack of a physical keyboard on those devices.
Have you tried voice typing in Google Docs? Take it for a spin, and let me know what you think. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 4 Mar 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Voice Typing In Google Docs (Posted: 4 Mar 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved