Type by Speaking on an Apple iPad
With the Apple iPad you can write emails, fill in text fields, and even write articles by talking. The Apple iPad (version 3) uses Siri for speech recognition. Siri automatically converts your speech to text as you talk.
The virtual keyboard on the iPad has a key with a microphone icon on it. When you press that key you can speak and it will type for you.
Siri Speech Recognition is similar to Dragon Naturally Speaking. And it even uses the same spoken commands, such as "period" - "comma" - "new paragraph" - and so on.
The Siri tool for search that you may be familiar with on the iPhone is also now included on the iPad with the latest upgrades to iOS.
Speech recognition is amazing! It allows me to write more often, and to write from my mind without having to waste time typing.
I was curious to see if I end up saying different things than I would have if I had typed. I tried a few different experiments before writing (speaking) this one. But I found it difficult to think and speak at first. It’s weird, because I do it all the time talking with friends and customers. I was wondering why I found this to be so much different.
The Human Brain Handles 'Typing' Very Differently Than 'Speaking'
What I discovered was an interesting phenomenon about how the human brain handles both typing and speaking very differently.
When I first tried writing an article by speaking, something got in the way. My brain was wired differently for verbal creative work.
I thought that maybe creativity comes through my fingers, not my mouth. But that’s not right either. I checked. I asked some friends if they thought I spoke creatively. Either they didn’t understand the question and thought I meant something else. Or they got what I was asking and knew the answer. Either way, I received a confirmation on my oral creativity.
So here I am, speaking to my iPad. After several attempts I think I’ve got the hang of it. It just took some rewiring of my brain cells by doing it a few times with Siri.
I discovered that I had a lot of trouble focusing and expressing my thoughts. That's funny, because I never have trouble writing when I type, or speaking to people.
What I came to realize is that our brain works differently when we speak compared to when we type or write.
I discovered that it's very difficult to write an article simply by speaking to my iPad.
You would think it's a lot easier because you don't have to bother typing. You just let the device do the typing for you. But that's not so.
In my experience, even though the iPad allows me to speak to type, I still had trouble writing by speaking. Even now I still have some difficulty keeping focused. I am finding that it gets easier to speak an article as I practice.
You can believe me when I tell you that I had to edit this article after speaking it. But I did discover a trick that makes it easier. That is to speak-type, as I call it.
It's Very Important to Proofread Your Speech-to-Text
You've got to be careful with letting Siri type for you though. Once in a while she may type some silly things by misunderstanding what you said. I learned that I need to double check it by reading it back before posting. Nevertheless, the process is a lot quicker and easier than typing.
For example, I recently was posting to the forum and I wanted to praise someone for something she had said. I spoke the post on my iPad. I said..
"Your idea is even better than mine."
But Siri typed...
"Your right ear is even better than mine."
If I would not have caught that, nobody would've understood what I was trying to say.
Another time, when I read an interesting post in the forum that I felt could be the makings of a great Hub, I posted back, "You should write a hub about that." But I spoke it to let Siri type it for me. And she typed, "You should right a hub about that."
She usually gets the spelling right since she seems to know what word is meant by the context it's used in. But not always.
I decided to try an experiment with speaking the following sentence...
"How do you recognize speech?"
Siri thought I was saying...
"How do you wreck a nice beach?"
She usually does a lot better than that, unless you ask her how to recognize speech. Then she gets all awkward and fumbled over the question. Maybe she wants to keep it a secret.
Double checking SIri's typing is just as important as checking our own typing for errors. Problem is that sometimes when I read back what Siri typed, it is such a derangement of what I said that I can't always remember what I originally was thinking when I said it.
It's a Weird Feeling at First Typing by Speaking
I realized that when I speak to friends I have no problem talking. So why did I have trouble writing articles by speaking to the iPad?
A friend of mine explained this phenomenon very well. He said, "There are different pathways through the brain to control the fingers and to control speaking with our mouth."
I found a solution. I have to imagine that the iPad is a person. By doing this I forced my brain to use the same pathways that are being used when I speak to people in public or to friends over the phone.
It works. But then another problem arose -- I make a lot of mistakes when I talk.
People usually don't catch it when they listen, mainly because the human brain corrects errors automatically. Have you ever had the experience where you catch yourself saying something incorrectly, and as soon as you say it again your listener responds with the comment, "I knew what you meant."
That's either because they really did know what you meant and didn't need to correct you, or they didn't hear what you said wrong because their brain let them hear what you really meant.
The point I'm making is that when we speak we make mistakes but when we type, we somehow pay more attention to what we're saying.
So what do I do about it now that I'm writing an article by speaking? Well, I pause a lot and review each paragraph step-by-step. And then I either switch to the keyboard and type in some corrections or simply speak a new paragraph. (I had to type that last part because when I say “new paragraph” Siri takes me literally and skips a blank line to start a new paragraph). That's another problem!
If you knew what I'm going through with “command confusion”, you would laugh. That’s a term I came up with. Keywords that happen to be commands can confuse the issue.
For example, when I want to use the word "period" in a sentence rather than placing a period at the end of the sentence, I need to say "period" twice. Siri will recognize that as meaning that I want the word. The same goes for all other marks, such as a comma, quote, etc. Sometimes it’s easier just to switch to the keyboard and type, as I did with this paragraph.
There are other commands that can be said as well. I already mentioned about saying "new paragraph" when you want to start a new paragraph, and Siri will space down two spaces. But if you say "new line" then it will only space down one space.
Some Editing is Required
If you're wondering if I had any trouble with the last paragraph, trying to get Siri to type things that are commands, you bet I did. I had to go back and do some old-fashioned editing on the iPad's keyboard to get all that correctly typed.
With all this nonsense going on that we need to think about while we're speaking, it kind of distracts us from the main thought we're trying to express.
Nevertheless, when you have some thoughts that you want to express fast, it's a useful tool to get it typed quickly. I will continue to use it -- at least for writing segments of articles or for notes to use later. And it's great for writing short emails.
© 2012 Glenn Stok
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