The iPhone’s Dictation feature that lets you enter text just by speaking gets even simpler in the upcoming iOS 16 by combining voice and text input.
And it won’t even be necessary to enter punctuation. The phone will handle that on its own.
iPhone Dictation mixes voice and touch input in iOS 16
“Dictation lets you type just by speaking and can be much faster than typing with the keyboard,” said Robby Walker, head of Siri and Language Technologies, during today’s WWDC22 keynote. “This is why it’s so popular for taking notes, sending messages and more.”
But there’s room for improvement. With the current iOS version, start Dictation and the on-screen keyboard disappears. You have to choose between typing and speaking text. iOS 16 combines touch and voice input.
“Users can type with the keyboard, tap in the text field, move the cursor, and insert QuickType suggestions, all without needing to stop Dictation,” notes Apple.
The new feature allows someone to start entering text with their voice, then manually type in a word they know the iPhone won’t understand, and then finish the sentence with their voice.
Let your iPhone handle punctuation
And there’s another AI-powered feature coming. Text message are often a stream of conscious because people don’t put in punctuation. That’s not going to be a problem with iOS 16.
With the upgrade, Dictation features automatic punctuation. Walker demonstrated during the keynote, speaking several sentences and letting an iPhone put in a question mark and periods as appropriate.
Of course, this was a pre-recorded demo so it’s no surprise that everything went perfectly. How well iOS 16 automatic punctuation will work in real-world use is still unknown.
As a bonus, the voice-recognition system adds emoji dictation. Someone can say, for example, “mind blown emoji” and have that emoji entered into their message.
In his demo, Walker emphasized that these Dictation features are handled by the iPhone, not a remote server. “It’s designed to protect your privacy,” he said. “Thanks to the Neural Engine, dictation can happen entirely on device.”
The Neural Engine is built into Apple’s processors. It speeds up artificial-intelligence and machine-learning tasks. With it, no one but you can find out what you’re entering via speech-to-text unless to choose to share it.
Coming with iOS 16
The Dictation upgrade is built into iOS 16, which is scheduled for release to the general public this autumn. Developers eager to test it can download the first iOS 16 now. Public beta testing is scheduled to begin in July.
iPadOS 16 is also getting the Dictation upgrade.