Stop Typing, Start Speaking

Srinath Rajaram
Aug 18, 2017 · 3 min read

TL; DR — Google’s voice typing works. Even for the Indian accent. I find it easier to speak than type. There are a few tips that you may find useful.

I have been using the Google voice keyboard for almost six months now and it is great. I don’t have to resort to stupid abbreviations. I don’t hesitate to type out longer messages. Previously, if a message went over three lines, I would just give up and call (I still do, but far less than before).

The recent addition of about 30 languages (including 9 Indian languages), makes it a lot more interesting. Google claims that it is three times faster to speak than type. I believe them.

After using it for six months, I found a few interesting things that you may want to keep in mind. I am going to assume that you have tried this stuff at least once and know the basics (you have to tap the mike before you speak and so on).

Don’t worry about your accent

This was my biggest hesitation before I tried voice typing. I did not have a great experience with Siri when it first came out.

I have a horrible Indian accent (with a dash of Tamil flavor). With Google, it was a breeze. I have seen reports of success with a whole range of accents from Australian to South African to Indian.

You don’t have to speak slowly

This is a routine game I play with voice typing. I have had surprising levels of success with my normal speaking speed. But if you want to be sure, you may want to start off at about 80% of your normal speaking speed.

GBoard is a lot better for voice typing

On most Android phones, you trigger voice typing by tapping on the mic icon on top of the keyboard. The default keyboard replaces the qwerty with a mic like below.

This makes it tedious when you have to correct. You have to switch back to the qwerty and then type the correction out.

But on GBoard, it is a breeze. Everything works together.

I have not tried Flesky or Swype but GBoard works well. You can get it here.

You can speak punctuations — but with a twist

You can say stuff like ‘comma’, ‘question mark’ and it works. But the full stop (period) does not work like most sites said it would. My keyboard (Indian English) does not give me a full stop when I say ‘full stop’ or ‘period’. But saying ‘point’ (as in a decimal point) works most of the time.

Capitalisation is a slight pain

If you are a stickler for grammar, you are on shaky ground. The keyboard handles auto capitalisation at the start of a sentence. If you want to capitalise a noun, you need to do it manually.

Suggestions are phonetic

Even when Google gets it wrong, the suggestions are brilliant. Sample this.

Note: I had to make this example up. Google actually got it right. I changed it to face and to show you the suggestions!

Seriously! Give it a shot and tell me what you think.

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