James Rosewell writes:
Back in January 2010 I wrote a brief review of the Google Nexus One that included my thoughts on the not-so-accurate voice dictation feature. From the marketing hype, I had expected to simply speak into the phone and a few seconds later my words would appear as a perfectly formed text message. The reality was somewhat disappointing. For all but the simplest short phrases it struggled to produce the intended words, making it inferior to even the touch-screen keyboard.
Since January, one of two things have changed. Either I’m better at speaking [ed: regular podcast listeners may disagree] or Google has learnt more about the way people talk and has updated the service. The whole experience is definitely a lot more usable and I find myself subconsciously reaching for the 'dictation' button when composing a text message. This represents a whole new social challenge concerning mobile usage. I certainly feel a bit of an idiot sitting in coffee shop talking clearly into my mobile phone in short bursts. On the positive side, all my text messages are perfectly formed with “text speak” phrases like gr8 a thing of the past.
Google improving this service is a fantastic demonstration of the benefits of cloud computing. I had to do absolutely nothing for this service to become usable. Having all the smart stuff independent of the handset hardware means mobile devices can deliver new features and services without traditional limitations. Handsets won’t need to be replaced as frequently. However, in 2 or 3 years time when everyone will be using dictation, more network bandwidth will be consumed - and MNOs more than ever need to become a greater player in this new revenue model.
PS. Touch-screen keyboards still suck compared to their old fashioned tactile predecessors. However I fear they’re here to stay and voice dictation just might make the whole mobile experience even more usable. But a word of caution: don’t expect to use dictation when driving, it’s not that easy to use just yet!