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Dictation Tricks for Mobile Phones 

If you find keyboards to slow to use while reviewing videos, here’s how you can use dictation on an iPhone or Android device and save a lot of time typing.

 

iPHone

Turn on dictation

First, you need to make sure dictation is turned on. To do this, go to Settings > General > Siri, and then turn Siri on. Even if you don’t want to use Siri’s personal assistant features, you need to turn it on for speech recognition to work. You can choose which language you’re using here, which is especially useful if you speak with an accent. For instance, if you live in the United States, but are British, you can set the language in Siri’s preferences to English (United Kingdom). 


Dictate

You can dictate anywhere in iOS where you can enter text. For example, you can dictate comments into form field. Any time you see the small microphone icon next to the spacebar on the iOS keyboard, dictation is available. Just tap anyplace you can type text, and then tap the microphone icon to start dictating. When you’re finished, tap Done and then wait for your words to be processed. It can take a few seconds for text to appear.

Whenever you see the microphone icon (circled), you have the opportunity to dictate. 

Whenever you see the microphone icon (circled), you have the opportunity to dictate. 

Talk into the microphone: You don’t need to speak very loudly; but you should keep your iPhone close to your mouth, especially if you’re outdoors. There are two microphones at the bottom of the iPhone, and a single microphone on iPads, located at the top of the device. It’s not easy to speak directly into the iPad mic while looking at the screen. Speak into the tiny hole at the top of your tablet.

You’ll find dictation in noisy environments works much better with an iPhone, because it’s easier to speak close to the microphone. The iPhone also has a noise-canceling mic, which filters out background noises. You might find that the Apple earbuds that come with an iPhone—which have an inline mic—offer better speech recognition, as do third-party headphones with mics, as long as you hold them fairly close to your mouth.

Dictate efficiently

Speak clearly: You don’t need to speak especially slowly, but speaking too quickly will lead to errors. The general idea is to talk like a newscaster: Enunciate, but don’t exaggerate.

Don’t say too much: Your voice has to be sent to a remote server, so keep your dictation segments under 30 seconds. 

Speak punctuation and symbols: To include punctuation in your dictation, you need to say “comma,” “period,” “hyphen,” and so on. Watch out for language differences. For instance, if you’re using British English, you need to say “full stop” instead of “period.”

You can say “new line” to dictate a return character, and “new paragraph” to add two returns. You say “apostrophe” for a possessive noun, such as “Jerry Garcia apostrophe S guitar,” for Jerry Garcia’s guitar.

Find more dictation commands on Apple’s website.

Proofread what you dictate: While some errors will be obvious, and other misinterpretations may have blue dotted lines highlighting them, there will be typos—or, more correctly, speech-os.

As you get used to dictating into your iPhone or iPad, you’ll figure out the right cadence and volume to get the most precise recognition. If you need to type a lot on an iOS device, try using dictation. Whether you use it for text messages or emails, it may save you a lot of time.


Android

To use voice dictation on Android, open any app and bring up a keyboard by tapping in a text field you want to type in. Tap the microphone icon at the bottom-left corner of your keyboard.

Just start speaking to use voice dictation. Android will insert the words as you speak them.

Whenever you see the microphone icon (circled), you have the opportunity to dictate. 

Whenever you see the microphone icon (circled), you have the opportunity to dictate. 

DICTATE EFFICIENTLY

Speak clearly: You don’t need to speak especially slowly, but speaking too quickly will lead to errors. The general idea is to talk like a newscaster: Enunciate, but don’t exaggerate.

Don’t say too much: Your voice has to be sent to a remote server, so keep your dictation segments under 30 seconds. 

Speak punctuation and symbols: You’ll need to speak the punctuation mark you want to use. For example, if you’d like to type “I’m good. How are you doing?”, you’d need to speak the words “I’m good period how are you doing question mark.”

Here are the handful of voice dictation commands that work on Android:

Punctuation: Period (.), comma (,), question mark (?), exclamation or exclamation point (!)
Line spacing: Enter or new line, new paragraph

Unfortunately, Android’s list of voice dictation commands is very limited compared to the comprehensive set available on iPhone and iPad.

Proofread what you dictate: While some errors will be obvious, and other misinterpretations may have blue dotted lines highlighting them, there will be typos—or, more correctly, speech-os.