How to get Hey Siri-style dictation on your Mac

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Ah, dictation on your Mac. What could be better?
Ah, dictation on your Mac. What could be better?
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

If you’ve called out, “Hey Siri” to your iPhone before, you know the joy of this Star Trek-style technology. You don’t even need to hold the Home button down. Sure, your iPhone needs to be plugged in, but it’s a pretty neat party trick.

Excitingly, you can do something similar on your Mac: activating dictation with a voice command. The next time you get a great idea and need to document it, you can just call to your Mac and dictate it right then. No pen, no paper, no walking all the way to your keyboard.

Here’s how.

A definitive guide to third-party keyboards in iOS 8

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Minuum is one of the many third-party keyboards for iOS 8. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Minuum is one of the many third-party keyboards for iOS 8. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

With iOS 8, iPhone and iPad owners for the first time ever can replace Apple’s default virtual keyboard with a third-party alternative.

Doing so — with keyboards made by SwiftKey, Swype, Fleksy and others — could vastly improve your touchscreen typing experience. Not only do some of these keyboards make typing easier, but they also boast innovative features, like the ability to type words using simple swipes instead of taps. Many of these keyboards are completely customizable, so you can set their size and color scheme to suit you.

If you haven’t already installed a third-party keyboard, you’re missing out on one of iOS 8’s best features. In this guide, first we’ll tell you about the best keyboards available from the App Store right now. We’ll also run through the features that make them unique, show you how you can customize them and make them work for you, and explain some important concepts, such as “Full Access.”

Apple Job Listing Hints At Future Siri Integration For Mac

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Siri

Apple has been improving Siri since the intelligent assistant first made its debut on the iPhone 4S back in October 2011, and has also been working to expand its availability; it’s now available on all the latest iOS devices, and some older ones, too. It seems inevitable that Siri will one day be introduced to the Mac as well, and that day could be getting closer as Apple searches for new engineers who will be tasked with bringing it to the desktop.

How To Enable And Use Dictation In Mountain Lion [OS X Tips]

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Mac OS X Dictation

There are many third-party apps out there that let you dictate on your Mac. Dragon Dicate is one, but it costs $199, and includes a ton of extra stuff, like controlling your Mac with your voice. If you just want to talk instead of type, say in an email, Tweet, or Facebook status update, you already have what you need built right in to your Mac running OS X Mountain Lion.

Use Punctuation To Dictate Text Messages Or Tweets Effectively [iOS Tips]

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It's not a jet car, but this seems a lot like the future.
It's not a jet car, but this seems a lot like the future.

As a new owner of an iPhone 5 that can take dictation, I’m still playing around with Siri and the various places and times that it makes sense to use my voice instead of the keyboard. Obviously, a crowded, quiet room is not the best place to speak to my iPhone, but in the car certainly is. It’s even better that I’m not texting with my fingers in the car, either, since that’s just plain dangerous. For a quick message, now, I’m gonna use the iOS 6 dictation feature.

Apple’s got an entire Knowledge Base article on how to best use dictation on your iOS 6 iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S, and as I read through it, it struck me how much easier it will be to respond to text messages should they come in while I’m not in a place to easily type a reply. One thing that surprised me was the recommendation to speak punctuation aloud.