Last summer I wrote about how speech-to-text software may be a killer app. At the time, I mentioned the rumor about what was to become Siri, the “talk to me” assistant in Apple’s then-upcoming iOS5. I also talked about Dragon Naturally Speaking, a PC-based system.
That was then: this is now. Apple itself is actually understating Siri’s capabilities – and Nuance, maker of Dragon Dictation, has made another huge advance for the you-and-me users out there. In this post, I’ll just deal with Siri: look for the Dragon post shortly.
[Note: I could spin this as being about trust, but that’d be a stretch. Sometimes I just get excited about other stuff – like cool work tools. Hope you like it too.]
Siri: Much More than Meets the Ear
You’ve seen the ads for Siri, seen friends demo it, maybe tried it yourself. And it’s impressive. You can tell Siri “Google the planet Pluto,” or “Remind me to pick up toothpaste next time I’m at the drugstore.” (I use this feature quite a bit).
But the truth is much more powerful. Those are parlor tricks, anthropomorphic gimmicks to introduce a new technology to the masses. You, Trust Matters readers, can handle The Truth. So let me tell it to you.
Forget the virtual assistant. Note instead that speech-recognition capability is now built in to the operating system. That means it’s available to you in almost every window, in almost every app on the iPhone.
What Siri Really Means – Now
Let me be clear about what that means. Once inside the data-entry part of an app, you can now speak, and your voice will be converted to text.
Email: speak your emails – they will convert to text
Messaging: speak your text messages – they will convert to text
Evernote: hit your Evernote app button and just start talking
Twitter: speak your tweets, stop finger-pecking them
Facebook: don’t tap your message, just say it
Google+: don’t type it, just speak it
Search: speak your Google or Bing searches – they will convert to text
Maps: speak your destinations – you get the idea.
You can now speak, instead of type, into almost any text-enterable field in any app. That means Notes, Salesforce, Quora, YouTube, NYTimes, Amazon – you name it.
- Hate having to type on that little screen? That excuse is no longer valid.
- Wish you had a dictation service? You do now.
- Still taking notes by hand until you get home to enter them? Puh-leeze.
The 30,000 Foot View
This technology is not perfect; but it’s even better than the old Dragon app for the iPhone that I wrote about just six months ago, and it’s bound to get better.
As with all technologies, it will be more useful for some things than for others. I find it especially useful in dictating text messages, taking long notes of phone calls or meetings, and dictating thoughts about future articles or blog-posts.
Remember the core value proposition of voice-to-text: We can talk 5x as fast as we can write; and we can read 3x faster than we can listen. That’s a 15x systemic advantage for communications efficiency. When was the last time we saw a technology that improved communications efficiency by 1500%?
Siri is to voice-to-text as a camel’s nose in the tent is to the camel. This will be one very, very big ride.
Next post: voice to text on your Mac or PC desktop as a one-stroke utility – it’s here now.
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