I wrote about Talktyper last July. It remains my preferred option for using voice to create text in Google Chrome. The one drawback has been the advertising on the site. Quite often this has been inappropriate for use with school age learners. Today, my colleague Lisa McKenna shared a solution that works perfectly to completely eliminate the ads on Talktyper.com!
Adblocker Plus is available in the Chrome Web Store as an extension for Google Chrome. Once added to Chrome, none of the offending advertising shows up on Talktyper.com. It works like magic. Now I have no hesitation in recommending Talktyper wholeheartedly. Please check out my detailed post about Talktyper for my reasons. The most important factor is the convenient text-to-speech option that is available for anyone who needs help with reading as well as written output.
This month, Google released Version 25 of the Chrome browser! The constant flow of improvement leaves no doubt that Google is committed to making an already excellent browser ever better. It’s no wonder that Chrome is already the worlds most widely used browser, even though it didn’t exist just five years ago!
In the latest version of Chrome, developers are able to build voice recognition into any apps created for the browser. The potential is tremendous. If developers take up the challenge, not only will users be able to create text with speech, they should be able to use voice commands to navigate web pages, open links and more. I hope this ultimately results in vastly improved access for individuals who face access challenges of many kinds.
Google has set up a demo site where you can use voice recognition to create an email or write text that can be copied elsewhere. If you wish, you can check it out HERE. The user interface is shown in the image below. The demo site is currently available in 32 of Google’s 57 languages. For English, settings are available for Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States.
I’ve explored numerous options for voice recognition, some free and others quite expensive. I’ve tried these applications myself, and I’ve used them with learners ranging in age from 8 to 68. In my experience, the free voice-to-text options available in the Google Chrome web browser are more effective than any of the others, especially for children. There are several Chrome alternatives, and I’ve already written here about Speech Recognizer, Online Dictation, andTalkTyper. Thanks to a helpful tip from Thomas Keown, I’m sharing yet another powerful option here.
VoiceNoteoffers excellent voice-to-text. It is a free app for Google Chrome that can be added to the browser simply by going to the Chrome Web Store and installing it. (A Google/GMail account is required.) VoiceNote opens as a dictation window, as pictured below. This can be a small window that sits on top of a document that is being written. Or, it can occupy the entire screen.
Some positive features of VoiceNote…
dictating directly into a text box facilitates creating paragraphs or longer selections of text
on-screen buttons for adding punctuation
floating window that can be positioned directly on any page where dictated text will be used
onscreen buttons for adding punctuation
desktop shortcut is available convewniently for opening VoiceNote
no advertising or other onscreen clutter
support for multiple languages
Perhaps the biggest drawback to VoiceNote is that only one font is available. The app’s developer has indicated that he is open to improving VoiceNote, so this may change. [Update: the font issue has been resolved.]
A basic tenet of Universal Design–in architecture as well as in learning–is that if you design for people “in the margins”, it tends to benefit everyone. The most oft-cited example of this is the curb cut. Increasingly, the reverse is also true. Mainstream technology designed to improve functionality for everyone is especially helpful for individuals who face exceptional challenges. The advances in voice recognition, or speech-to-text, offer a striking example of this.
The latest version of the Google Search app for both iOS and Android devices shows just how far mainstream voice recognition has come! Asking a question yields not only search results, but in many instances you can also hear a spoken answer. When I tried the app on my iPad, I was blown away by the accuracy and the speed of this powerful tool. Many individuals, who face a wide range of challenges will benefit from the new Google Search app.
Earlier this week, Life Hacker and Richard Byrne wrote about a new online service that takes advantage of Google’s Chrome browser to offer speech to text. I welcome this news because I think it’s always best when we can offer learners a choice of learning tools.
Online Dictation is not a Google Chrome extension or app that you add to the browser. Rather, it’s a website that offers voice to text. The caveat is that Online Dictation only works if you are using the Chrome browser.
The voice recognition in Online Dictation is excellent, even with the built in microphone on my laptop. There are also several voice commands available to make dictation more efficient. Another helpful feature is that dictation can be activated with a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+.(period) Alternatively, the user can click on a picture of a mic.
Online Dictation is similar to TalkTyper, which I reviewed in early July. The most significant difference is that TalkTyper offers text-to-speech so the writer can listen to what has been dictated. This is especially important for anyone who struggles with both writing and reading. In my view, Online Dictation would also be better if the user were given a choice of fonts for dictated text.
Overall, I think TalkTyper is probably a better choice for most learners who struggle with text. At the same time, it’s great for the learner to have another option when making his or her choice!
Here’s a video demonstration of Online Dictation in action. I’m impressed by how well it handles both my “Canadian English” and the “Indian English” in the video. It may work well for you or for a learner you support.