Many attorneys like to dictate letters or messages using their Android device. I use voice to text quite often to compose text messages, and when combined with Google Now’s voice commands, your phone becomes a handy personal assistant. Of course, I’ve talked about making your own dictation system with Google Drive and your Android Device. But Christian Williams wonders the following:
I wonder what punctuation can be used, if there is a command for new line or paragraph breaks.
Unfortunately Christian, the short answer is that there aren’t any paragraph breaks in Android’s punctuation commands. Yes, you can use the “new line” or “new paragraph” punctuation commands. but unlike Dragon Naturally Speaking or other true text to speech programs, Android’s speech to text engine isn’t that good. Well, it’s good, but when we talk about dictation, Android sucks. Google is really improving Android dictation capabilities, and while you’re not going to experience Dragon-like dictation, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
STT types what you tell it to
Android’s speech to text engine is quite literal. That means, when you say, “new paragraph,” the STT engine translates and types, “new paragraph.”
This “stupidity” happens for essentially two reasons:
- STT isn’t really designed for dictation (at this time); and
- Google’s interested in conversational context for its STT engine.
In the grand world of speech to text, dictation — at least as attorney’s think of dictation — takes a very distant
third fourth fiftieth one-hundreth place. The reality is that most Android consumers will never use their Android devices with the intent of dictating long, legalese-filled, memos and diatribes. The true purpose, at least in the STT world according to Google, is to translate and send short bursts of text (think text messages or Twitter updates — 140 characters), rather than lengthier discourses.
When STT accomplishes that goal, 95% or more of users are happy.
The conversation is the important factor
Those happy users, sending short bursts of messages, is what Google’s trying to capture. Google’s Hummingbird search update is all about conversational searches rather than Boolean-like queries. So, similarly, STT tries to capture the same elements.
But if you remember conversational, it’s easier to get engaged with STT.
What commands work?
Ultimately, figuring out what commands work, and when, will drive you bat crazy. Here’s a list of usable commands to make STT work a little better. Hopefully, Google will improve and incorporate more dictation commands, such as punctuation.
- Period = period (.)
- Comma = comma (,)
- Question mark = question mark (?)
- Exclamation or exclamation point = exclamation point (!)
- Enter or new line = moves to a new line
- New paragraph = new paragraph
Making it all work together
I’ve found that the best way to get dictation working is to have a continual conversation with your device. This means that if you pause for long periods of time, usually 2 or more seconds, STT won’t connect your command as a command. This is especially true for commands like “new paragraph” and “new line” or “enter.”
I find that if you pause only slightly, STT will spell out “enter,” rather than execute the command. It’s a really finicky function, but if you do it right dictation works well.
But it’s not Dragon Naturally Speaking
If’ you’re dead-set on having the Dragon experience, Android’s STT will disappoint. But, if you recognize Android’s dictation for what it is, then you’ll probably be satisfied with what you’re getting.
If you know of more commands that work, let me know so we can help everyone.