I took our dogs for a walk this morning, and it turned into an on-the-fly trial of Siri and iOS 5’s new voice dictation features. Yes, I became That Guy speaking “read my message” to myself on a walk around our neighborhood, and it was great.
While walking, I started thinking about an AgileBits blog post I had to finish drafting, so I decided to try iOS 5’s new voice dictation abilities (which are iPhone 4S-only) with Elements, one of my favorite Dropbox-powered iOS text editors. Despite background noise of cars passing by and, for part of the walk, getting close to a bridge over a highway and one of Chicago’s busy L trains, iOS 5 did a pretty good job of translating two short paragraphs of the post. I should note that I was using Apple’s standard iPhone headphone set for all microphone input and triggering Siri.
There were two instances where iOS 5’s voice dictation tools didn’t place proper punctuation, and there were two word jumbles. But on the whole, I was impressed with how well and quickly iOS 5 translated my speech into text in Elements. I learned a handy tip too: you can select some text, hit the microphone button, speak your peace, and iOS 5 is smart enough to overwrite the selection you made with your new text.
In the middle of dictating the blog post, I received an iMessage from my wife. After nonchalantly looking around to check if anyone else was on the block to see me turn into That Guy from the iPhone 4S commercial, I embraced my transformation, toggled Siri, and said “read my message.” It went really well. Siri’s pretty good at pronouncing complex or abnormal words, and the process of replying with a couple of voice commands and speaking my message went great, aside from aforementioned punctuation quirks.
Unfortunately, my iPhone 4S voice experiments didn’t go well for at least one party involved: my dogs. We’ve trained them fairly well and they know quite a few voice commands. Nearly every time I started talking to Siri or dictating part of the blog post, they would look back or hesitate at the next turn. I wager they can get used to this as time goes on, and maybe I can get in a better habit of addressing Oscar and Maddy specifically when a voice command is for them, and not my phone.
I’ve enjoyed using Siri for the usual things like setting timers, checking tomorrow’s weather, driving directions, and sending the occasional iMessage. Those uses quickly became habit, and I like iOS 5’s voice abilities even more now that they work this well out in the field.