Voice is your productivity superpower

Greg Taylor
Dec 13, 2018 · 3 min read
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Brill on App Store ⟶ http://bit.ly/brill-app

My family think I know everything about technology. I used to think I was actually pretty good with it myself. I used to think I was taking full advantage of everything it had to offer. At work, I thought I was already super-productive. It turns out I’m not as smart as I thought (sorry boss!). I’ve been missing out on a huge opportunity to save time while making my life a little easier too.

This (slightly embarrassing) realisation occurred to me recently while working on Brill, an app that focuses on working smarter. We’ve shown that by using voice, you can be super fast digitizing notes. Or thoughts. Or whiteboard rants. Either way, during speed testing we discovered that with the right user interface, using voice, you can digitize your notes at a blistering pace and a) actually enjoy doing it, and b) save you lots of time (over 30%). I’ve never, ever, had fun digitizing a stack of 50 sticky notes. A light came on.

I’m a Siri, and Google Home user, my Smart TV can be controlled by voice, and as many people already know, voice is awesome in many situations. But, its magic goes beyond what I’ve been using it for. Things like asking for the time, requesting a joke, playing music, setting a timer, or turning on and off lights, etc, are fairly standard.

Voice has been around for many years. Amazon’s Alexa, for example, has over 50,000 skills, works with 20,000 devices and is integrated into everything from power plugs to microwaves. But until very recently, that was the extent of it for me. Basic interactions with one-way commands that have little value beyond a ‘slice in time’ gimmick.

As first using voice to capture notes appeared elementary. In fact, it felt too simple. It already existed, right? So we hunted around and didn’t see anything else that allowed you to dictate and create a singular note, or entry quickly, and then do multiple things with it. We know from our user testing that people want to be able to rapidly add things like tags on the go, add a status, export into a spreadsheet or plain text email, and directly sync into the platforms we use every day like #Slack, Basecamp, Asana, Trello, Jira, etc.

So we rapidly built an app to test the concept. People are now downloading it and sending us feedback. What came next was a surprise. I was going through feedback day after day, I noticed a trend that people who were not entirely sure how to use voice dictation on their phones. Initially, this struck me as odd as I’ve used dictation for years as a way of rapidly ‘typing’ texts, emails and messages. Even with the odd correction, it’s much faster than typing. But this is not about me.

We’ve had a lot of questions about how to add punctuation. Specifically commas, brackets and full stops using voice commands while dictating. It might not come as a shock to you that you can simply say “full stop” or “comma” to add the basics. However, there are some slightly more complex ones like saying “open bracket” and “close bracket” when you’re finished that are relatively known to many.

With that in mind, give these commands a try:

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Next time you’re typing anything on your phone, give the microphone icon a tap on the keyboard (available on both iPhone for Android) and try dictating your message. It’s frightfully accurate, fast, and also means you don’t have to look down at your phone so you can do it while you walk without walking into things!


Capture your notes and ideas using voice.

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