How to enable Enhanced Dictation in OS X for streaming speech-to-text with live feedback

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 17, 2014

OS X includes a nifty Dictation feature which allows you to control your Mac and apps with your voice. You can use “speakable items”, basically a set of spoken commands, to open apps, choose menu items, email contacts and convert whole spoken sentences to text, wherever you can type text.

This is much like iOS’s Dictation feature as both iOS and OS X use the same Nuance-powered technology that turns speech to text. iOS devices have limited computing power so the Dictation feature on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad requires network connectivity in iOS 7 (iOS 8 supports streaming voice recognition and 22 new languages).

On the Mac, computing resources like CPU power, battery life and RAM are not of paramount importance as on mobile, Therefore, OS X Mavericks provides a new Enhanced Dictation feature which converts your words to text without utilizing Apple’s servers.

In other words, server-based Dictation lets you dictate without an active Internet connection. Because voice recognition processing runs locally on your Mac, text appears instantly as you speak. That is: continuos, streaming dictation with live feedback is made possible.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to turn on Enhanced Dictation in OS X and take advantage of speech-to-text, even when you’re off the grid… Read More

 

Skype refresh brings back voice messaging and contact profiles

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 7, 2014

Having unceremoniously removed voice messaging from the recently remastered Skype 5.0 for iPhone, the Microsoft-owned VoIP provider on Monday pushed a minor update that has brought the useful feature back while adding two others.

The new Skype 5.2 for iPhone is rolling out this morning. In addition to voice messaging, the refreshed Skype app has also brought back the ability to access contact profiles while allowing you to add participants to the existing conversation at any time… Read More

 

Apple assembling in-house speech synthesis team to supplant Siri’s Nuance with better tech

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 1, 2014

As we’ve written before, Apple has created Siri in a modular manner, so that it could easily replace her Nuance-powered speech recognition engine with a similar piece of software. Siri since its inception has been reliant on Nuance technology, but things look to be changing sooner than later.

The company is reportedly assembling an in-house team of speech synthesis and voice recognition experts tasked with developing a proprietary technology that could supplant Nuance and give the personal assistant a “neural network” boost… Read More

 

Microsoft mulls porting Cortana assistant to iOS

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 13, 2014

Microsoft has wont to arrive late to parties: following Siri’s introduction nearly three years ago, Redmond in April of this year has finally gotten around to unveiling a personal assistant of its own, Cortana, at the Build Developer Conference in San Francisco.

Originally conceived as a Windows Phone 8.1 exclusive, the Windows giant is now reportedly considering bringing the virtual assistant to rival platforms, namely to iOS and Android.

Let me get this straight. Beats updates Android appMicrosoft launches Office for iPad before even releasing a touch-optimized version for Windows 8 tablet. Apple reportedly mulling iTunes for Android

What a difference a few years make, eh? Read More

 

Microsoft demos real-time voice translation feature for Skype

By Cody Lee on May 28, 2014

Last night at Recode’s inaugural Code Conference, Microsoft announced a new real-time voice translation feature for its Skype VoIP service. The company says it’s currently in beta form, but it plans to eventually roll it out to all devices.

The goal of the feature is to allow users to hold a conversation with someone speaking a foreign language, with Skype providing near-instant voice translations for both parties. And judging by the initial demonstration, it works fairly well… Read More

 

T-Mobile starts rolling out VoLTE in select markets, starting with Seattle

By Christian Zibreg on May 22, 2014

Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile USA, the nation’s fourth largest wireless carrier, on Thursday announced it’s started gradual deployment of Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) technology, starting with Seattle.

The move comes just as rival AT&T last Friday brought both VoLTE and HD Voice technologies to select markets and as Verizon Wireless pledged to roll out VoLTE later this year.

That major U.S. telcos are racing to have VoLTE ready at this particular moment in time may have something to do with Apple’s expected launch of the iPhone 6 this Fall, alongside iOS 8 which is said to support making voice calls over high-speed LTE networks out of the box… Read More

 

Meet Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri

By Christian Zibreg on Mar 3, 2014

The Windows giant Microsoft will be introducing its upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update at the Build conference next month.

With it comes Cortana, a Microsoft-branded personal digital assistant that includes functionality provided by Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now voice-activated assistants.

It also has a few nice features not provided by Apple so perhaps competition from Microsoft (and Google) will prompt the iPhone maker to roll out new Siri features sooner than later. The Verge has an exclusive look at Cortana’s interface and some of its features, here are the highlights… Read More

 

Yahoo buys Donna virtual assistant maker Incredible Labs, will shut down app

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 30, 2014

Yahoo’s shopping spree continues as the company announced Thursday its newest acqui-hire: San Francisco based Incredible Labs, the team behind a rather compelling virtual assistant app named Donna.

Incredible launched Donna on iOS last summer. Named after Donna Moss, the popular assistant from the TV show The West Wing, the software is basically a cross between Google Now and Siri.

The application strives to manage your day with features like smart notifications, an anticipatory calendar and in-app directions, to mention but a few. Donna would proactively tell you about upcoming appointments, dial into conference calls for you, let others know when to expect you by analyzing traffic conditions and your frequent locations – even taking into account the little things like the current parking situation.

In November, Donna got updated with Lock screen calling, smarter meeting scheduling and other features. Nothing indicated at the time that Incredible would slow the pace of Donna development, let alone sell out to Yahoo.

Unfortunately, there is some bad news for Donna fans out there: the Internet giant will be shutting down the application following the acquisition… Read More

 

iOS 7.1 to bring Siri gender option for UK, Australian English, possibly other languages

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 20, 2014

As Apple gears up to unleash the fourth beta of the upcoming iOS 7.1 firmware update, possibly as early as tomorrow (carriers are already testing it), we’ve been tipped off about a nice improvement in the current iOS 7.1 Beta 3 release which has apparently escaped our and pretty much everyone else’s attention.

Courtesy of the latest iOS 7.1 beta, male and female Siri voice with British English accent are now available on iOS 7.1 Beta 3 device. As the currently available non betas don’t offer updated voices for Siri in the UK, this signals Apple is looking to enable Siri’s gender option in more languages as the company continues to fine-tune its digital personal assistant… Read More

 

Check out Google Now integration on your Mac in latest Chrome Canary release

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 16, 2014

CNET reported last summer that Google Now cards were heading to Google’s Chrome browser for the Mac. Six months later, Google releases a brand new Google Canary build with Google Now cards functionality nested right inside the browser’s notification center which sits in your Mac’s status bar.

Although not all Google Now cards are available in this alpha release of Chrome, the search company has integrated a few of the most popular ones like sports scores, real-time weather updates, and travel information… Read More

 

Hands-free ‘OK Google’ search comes to your Mac

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 27, 2013

Yours truly is a huge fan of Google Now so it goes without saying I’ve long been yearning for that kind of hands-free voice searching on my Mac desktops and notebooks. Available via Google’s free Search app for the iPhone and iPad since November 5, the cool feature dutifully listens to the ‘OK Google’ keyword which initiates a voice search. It’s severely crippled, too, as ‘OK Google’ only works if the Search app is running, as opposed to the always-on implementation on the Nexus 5 and Moto X.

Blame it on Apple’s strict policy that prohibits third-parties from listening to the microphone input in the background. Well, there are no such restrictions on Macs (yet) and Google has taken advantage of the fact and released a nice little extension for its browser allowing you to talk to Google (when you’re using Chrome) hands-free, no typing required… Read More

 

Samsung lambasts Siri dictation in weirdest Galaxy S4 ad yet

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 5, 2013

I appreciate memorable, creative advertising as much as the next guy, but I just don’t get a new Galaxy S4 commercial Samsung is airing in Iceland.

Instead of focusing on the handset’s features or the usual iPhone bashing, this time around Samsung’s creative agency has gone over the top in depicting a guy trying to make a phone call on a real apple.

Realizing swiping across fruit makes no sense, the ad then switches to a happy scene where our hero operates a Galaxy S4. The not-so-subtle jab at Apple is plain weird, to put it mildly. I know ads are supposed to take into account the often vast cultural differences across markets, but I’m not sure Samsung did itself a favor with this particular commercial… Read More

 

Voice Memos app returns in iOS 7 beta 2

By Cody Lee on Jun 24, 2013

A few moments ago, Apple released the second beta of its next-generation mobile operating system, iOS 7, to developers. The first beta, which was released two weeks ago today, featured a number of UI changes and new features. And today’s update adds to that.

One of the bigger changes we’ve noticed in beta 2 is that Apple has re-added the stock Voice Memos app. The utility was missing from the original iOS 7 release, leaving some folks to speculate that Apple was getting rid of it all together. But that’s not the case… Read More

 

DirecTV app now supports voice navigation

By Christian Zibreg on May 15, 2013

DirecTV has a decent iOS app on the App Store which streams live television programming, supports DVR functionality and lets you browse and access on-demand streams of past television shows and movies.

The company previously promised to activate voice-enabled features and today it made good on that promise by updating DirectTV software to version 2.5.

The new version uses voice-activated navigation to enable users to find whatever they want to watch on their telly. It’s just like Siri: simply speak to the app just as you would to a person in order to find something to watch. In fact, DirectTV’s software gives us a good indication how a rumored Siri-enabled Apple television set could enhance the experience… Read More

 

How to assign voice memos to an Activator gesture

By Jeff Benjamin on Apr 12, 2013

Whenever you have Ryan Petrich’s beta repo added to your Cydia sources, you’re bound to run into a new surprise from time to time. That’s because the prolific Cydia developer likes to test out some of his new creations on his personal repo before adding them to Cydia.

One of his latest creations is called Voice Memo Toggle for Activator. As its name states, it simply adds the ability to toggle voice memos on or off using an Activator gesture. The memos are taken using the iPhone’s stock Voice Memos app, which makes it only available for the iPhone or iPod touch users. Take a look inside for a few additional details. Read More

 

Siri Eyes Free coming to Honda’s 2013 Accord and Acura cars

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 30, 2013

Car maker Honda announced Wednesday that some of its 2013 vehicles will feature integration with Apple’s Eyes Free, a voice-activated system that lets compatible Siri-enabled iOS devices running iOS 6 to interact with the driver. Honda joins a host of other car makers who announced support for Siri’s Eyes Free mode or are already supporting the feature in high-end vehicles.

Apple at WWDC 2012 announced Eyes Free and said a number of car makers will be supporting it, including GM, Audi, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, GM and Chrysler. Eyes Free allows drivers to interact with their iDevices using voice and bypassing touch input, thus increasing safety… Read More

 

How Verizon almost made Siri an Android exclusive

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 23, 2013

Apple’s digital secretary, Siri, arrived as an iPhone 4S exclusive in October 2011, but the feature almost ended up being exclusive to Android devices on the Verizon network. According to a new report, Verizon in the fall of 2009 managed to sign a deal with the startup to make Siri a default app on all Android phones set to launch in the new year. It’s interesting that the agreement was signed several months before Apple approached Siri and that the carrier even created unreleased ads highlighting Siri on Android.

Several months later, Apple came into full view to acquire the startup outright, effectively making the feature exclusive to its devices and narrowly escape seeing Siri falling into hands of the Android camp… Read More

 

VSNotifications reads your incoming iOS notifications

By Mike Schnier on Jan 21, 2013

VSNotifications is a jailbreak utility which has been available for a few months. The tweak allows a jailbroken device running iOS 5 or higher to read out incoming notifications through a Siri-like voice synthesizer. With VSNotifications you can receive messages without even having to see the screen.

It’s not hard to see how the tweak could be useful. When you’re driving, VSNotifications is a great way to stay connected to your messages without breaking laws or endangering others on the road. The tweak could also make a jailbroken iPhone more useful to the visually impaired, or people who just like having their notifications read to them… Read More

 

Facebook Messenger gains VoIP calling, but it’s Canada only initially

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 3, 2013

Facebook has just updated its Messenger iOS and Android app with the voice messaging feature. Facebook Messenger version 2.1, a free download over at Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, now lets you record short voice messages for your friends, up to a minute in length. We’ll see if this is the voicemail for the 21st century, but anyone who updates to the new version gains this feature automatically and that’s a big advantage. But the social networking giant isn’t stopping there.

In the new Facebook Messenger, you can now place voice calls to your Facebook contacts free of charge. Of course, these are VoIP calls so a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection is needed. It looks like Facebook, which some folks though would buy WhatsApp, is adamant to turn the Messenger app into a unified messaging solution. The last piece of the puzzle needed: video chat…  Read More

 

Showdown: Google Voice Search v. Siri speed test

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 5, 2012

Google’s recently updated Voice Search iOS app is simply amazing as it demonstrates just how speedy Siri should be. Unfortunately, Apple’s digital secretary remains reliant on network connectivity for voice recognition. Heck, this time last year some folks were even convinced only the iPhone 4S was fast enough to run Siri. That couldn’t be farther from the truth because Google’s iOS app comes with real-time voice recognition. So, how speedy is Siri compared to Google’s refreshed app? Check out this clip by Gizmodo and meet us down in the comments. It’s a couple days old but definitely worth watching… Read More

 
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