iPhone’s voice-to-text transcription sucks compared to Pixel’s

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Pixel 3
Transcription is one area Google's Pixel is ahead of the iPhone.
Photo: Google

Apple continues to lag behind when it comes to machine learning — and voice-to-text transcription on the iPhone is just one more example of this.

In a new video posted online by journalist James Chan, the iPhone’s speech transcription skills are put up against Alphabet’s Pixel smartphone. Not only is Apple’s version significantly slower, but it’s a whole lot less accurate, to boot.

“I don’t think that people appreciate how different the voice to text experience on a Pixel is from an iPhone,” Cham wrote in a tweet sent Wednesday. “So here is a little head to head example. The Pixel is so responsive it feels like it is reading my mind!”

The low latency of the Pixel does indeed make the iPhone’s voice-to-text capabilities look positively prehistoric by comparison. Worse, Google’s version of the tool is not only much faster, but it’s also a whole lot more accurate.

Reviewing Cham’s text, the Pixel transcribes sentences like “faster speech transcription” correctly, while Apple manages “past her speech transcription.” For anyone who has been an Apple fan for a few decades, it’s a definite “eat up Martha” moment, referring to the occasionally dubious handwriting recognition of the early Newton MessagePad.

Voice-to-text on iPhone is a missed opportunity

On the Daring Fireball blog, John Gruber makes a good point when he writes that: “If Apple’s voice-to-text transcription were good, it wouldn’t just improve the ways we use (or try to use) [the technology] — truly good voice-to-text would enable all sorts of new Star Trek-level interactions while editing text. Quick fixes in Messages, Mail, or wherever you happen to be typing.”

I’ve long been writing about how Apple lags behind when it comes to AI. While Apple has taken steps to catch up, it still drags behind in a lot of ways. Siri is one notable example. Autocorrect is another, as none other than Elon Musk has pointed out. It’s a real shame because, at least when it comes to the field of speech recognition, Apple was making this technology mainstream years before its rivals got on board. Or, in some cases, even existed.

How do you find Apple’s speech transcription capabilities? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.