Apple caught testing offline Dictation for iOS 7

By , Jul 6, 2013

iOS 7 Dictation (teaser 001)

Among the headline new Mac features set to debut when OS X Mavericks gets released this Fall is a little but important enhancement to Dictation.

Hawk-eyed readers will recall that Dictation was brought to the Mac as part of OS X Mountain Lion last summer. Based on Siri’s speech-to-text component, Dictation on the Mac requires a broadband Internet connection.

In Mavericks, Apple will let you optionally download a nearly 1GB package to power offline Dictation.

But Apple’s engineers aren’t stopping here and are reportedly privately testing offline Dictation for iOS 7. More details right after the break…

The discovery was made by Hamza Sood and first reported by Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac.

Although Apple’s iOS 7 web page makes no mention of offline Dictation, Hamza spotted code references in both iOS 7 betas (but not in iOS 6).

The functionality is currently not active in public-facing builds, but we are told that devices internal to Apple have the function up and running.

We are also told that while local Dictation is an option in these seeds, the former, cloud-based Dictation process is present for certain situations. Perhaps this will be an option in Settings or an option based on Internet conditions.

We can only speculate as to whether offline Dictation might be an iPhone 5S exclusive.

Such a move wouldn’t be unheard-of. Remember, Siri debuted in October 2011 as an iPhone 4S exclusive before eventually being rolled to the fifth-generation iPod touch and iPad 3 and 4 and iPad mini.

iOS 7 (Keyboard, Dictation, Siri waveform)Android Offline Dictation
Current Dictation implementation in iOS 7 (left) and offline Dictation on Android (right).

It remains to be seen whether the current iPhone 5 has enough oomph to carry out on-device speech-to-text conversion. Battery life is an obvious concern here as tapping the Dictation database weighing several hundred megabytes would prove a major burden on resources.

Here’s a demo of live Dictation in OS X Mavericks.

Potential benefits of offline Dictation on iDevices are obvious.

First and foremost, such a capability would enable live feedback when using your voice to input text using Dictation. You’d also avoid unwanted data usage over the cellular network, always a big concern when on a metered plan.

The offline Dictation database could even help Siri  respond instantly to certain queries, like setting your alarms, turning on flashlight and performing other functions that don’t require web sources.

Siri iOS 7 1

All told, we’re pretty sure offline Dictation is coming to iOS devices, this way or another.

Back in November, reliable sources told Gurman that Apple would bring both Siri and native Maps app to the Mac. The latter came true as OS X Mavericks includes a standalone Maps application.

Siri, on the other, is a no show in Mavericks.

There’s no reason to suspect Siri won’t make a leap to the Mac just as we’re all but certain that offline Dictation will at some point surface as an option on certain iOS 7 devices.

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  • Filip Langer

    Who says you can’t get it? :P skyra1n actually works quite well :)

    • rasengan720 .

      you know there are a lot of problems with these siriports and many people tell to stay away from it

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Must be lucky to have avoided those problems for the past year and half…thanks to Rainstone.

    • David Gitman

      I want official

      • Prasoon Singh

        The reason Apple doesn’t let the iPhone 4 have Siri is because of the hardware. If you’re still using the iPhone 4, then you should probably upgrade.

      • David Gitman

        with jailbreaking i can Use siri without any problems! :(

      • MOM

        son if you want siri official just get the 4s or the 5 the iphone 4 is too old LOL

      • David Gitman

        out of cash :/

  • Adil Hussain

    This would actually be really good to be honest. Great for iPod 5G users, we wont have to be connected to wifi to use Siri :)

    • Ricky

      Why would you need it? Ipod touch didnt use a lot of keyboard when not connected to internet.

  • Ricky

    I prefer basic function of siri that does not require internet acces build in

  • seyss

    about goddamn time

  • rasengan720 .

    i know how you feel bro :(

    • David Gitman

      :(

  • D.

    “Caught” testing. Like it’s illegal lol

    Would be a great feature though.

  • Mohammed Sahib

    Siri, in its current state, is useless to me for two reasons: First, it requires internet connection and carriers here are still on 2G (the horror) and secondly siri misunderstands me most of the time. Lets hope both are fixed in iOS 7 and that it won’t be exclusive to the 5S.

    • Daniel Eliasson

      if she misunderstands you, learn better english.

      • Mohammed Sahib

        You judged by my name. Ok. But I wonder if all those people in USA and UK (who have the same complaint) need to learn better English as well, so that ‘she’ may be kind enough to understand them.
        And I wonder why I; and others, don’t have the same problem with Google Now.

      • Daniel Eliasson

        Dude, why is it that she understands me then?

      • Dominik Odobašić

        Right. Blame people instead of shitty software. Well done!

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Yeah, you’re speaking to her “the wrong way”…

  • marcus1324

    That would just slow it down more, I have an iPhone 4 that I got when it came out and I plan of pre-ordering the 5S.

    • David Gitman

      nope! Jailbreak showed that this is just bag of crap!
      Iphone 4 with jailbreak with siri working perfect!

      • RarestName

        I’ve tried it before and it lags. Terribly.

      • David Gitman

        Well I tried it and worked perfect

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Sounds like you were using one of those free mobile substrate dependent ports. Rainstone solved that for me…

      • marcus1324

        Yeah speaking of lag my iPhone 4 crashes a lot when I try to do something quickly and I only have about 10 jailbreak tweaks!

      • RarestName

        Whereas the iPhone 4S manages perfectly fine even with 30 tweaks installed. That’s why I laugh at those people who say that the iPhone 4S is exactly the same as the iPhone 4.

      • Haduken2g

        Are you /u/seekokeah?

      • RarestName

        Are you #TimeLineSpammer?

    • Nikolas Kovack

      iPhone 4 is SO SLOW on iOS 6, NOT JAILBROKEN. Imagine it JAILBROKEN on iOS 7.
      10 second lag everywhere.

      • marcus1324

        I know it’s awful! I only have about 10 jailbreak tweaks on my jailbroken iOS 6 iPhone 4 and I don’t plan on updating it to iOS 7 because I will be getting the iPhone 5S I can’t wait! And imagine those poor iPhone 3GS users on iOS 6.

  • Agnamu

    well, that would be a waste of storage.

  • Dominik Odobašić

    About time. How many months of lag is that? 10? 12?

  • Gorgonphone

    Eh i just hope it can actually undertand speech as well as google does

  • Gorgonphone

    Siri aint that great at all goodle search is better at voive function

    • David Gitman

      I know! But i dont want search app. I want assistant

  • ✪ aidan harris ✪

    To be honest I’d rather put the gigabyte towards downloading the latest Modern Combat game but for others I suppose this could be a useful feature…

    • Guest

      That’s what I’m saying… hahaha

  • Toby Kazeil

    This is ridiculous. I personally feel that Apple should’ve had offline dictation and simple Siri commands WAY before iOS 7 was even announced.

  • dpacemaker

    Since Beta 2 has come out Siri has been faster in general, and voice dictation is instant for me. Of course it doesn’t show it in real time like Google does, but once I’m done it beeps and is instantly there. It’s just as fast as offline, but granted it should be there all the time and it shouldn’t need to online to do tasks needed natively on the iPhone. Never understood why Siri needs a data connection to play music, or to even look up a contact and initiate the call, but I am looking forward to this feature.

  • Ben Giddings

    Siri isn’t all she is cracked up to be…

  • Nikolas Kovack

    Why the hell would an iPhone 5 not have enough “oomph” to use offline dictation or live dictation.
    REMEMBER GUYS: this phone has 1GB of RAM! That’s the same amount of RAM that shipped with my $1,200 iMac in 2008.