VoiceNote: Another Excellent Voice-to-Text App for Google Chrome

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, and TalkTyperThanks to a helpful tip from Thomas Keown, I’m sharing yet another powerful option here.

VoiceNote offers 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.]








Voice Recognition in Google Search App is Almost Perfect!

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.

Word Prediction with Text-to-Speech, Voice-to-Text for Writing, Text-to-Speech and a Spell Checker for Editing – all in One App!

At $14.99, the app I’m highlighting here isn’t free, nor is it what I would normally refer to as low-cost. For the user who really needs it, it’s probably a bargain! I like TYP-O’s slogan: “Writing is for Everybody!

TYP-O HD is an iOS app that works on all three Apple devices–iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. In my view, it functions best on the iPad’s larger screen. It is a versatile set of  four tools that support written output.

First, there is excellent word prediction with text-to-speech. This means that the writer can hear what a suggested word sounds like before selecting it. Secondly, the user has the option of entering text with voice recognition. There is also an effective spell checker. Finally, the writer can review his work by listening to it with the built-in text-to-speech.

Written work created in TYP-O can be sent to the clipboard and then copied into another app. Or, it can be shared via email. If hard copy is required, it can also be printed directly from the app.

The developers continue to improve TYP-O. The app has evolved and improved considerably since I  first became aware of it. The only downside I’ve discovered is that it takes up a large amount of memory on the device–a whopping 1.9 GB. This means that updates take time and require a good Internet connection.

I’ve embedded a screenshot of TYP-O’s interface. Below that is a video that demonstrates the app in action.

Online Dictation: Another Effective Voice Recognition Option in Google Chrome

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.

7 Excellent Free Options for Speech to Text — on Handheld Devices, in a Web Browser, and on the PC

Voice Recognition software has made impressive gains in recent years. With the advent of handheld touch screen devices, it is making its way into everyday life for a growing number of people. Moreover, voice recognition is rapidly becoming more accurate. This is great news for individuals who struggle with writing!


In this post, I’m highlighting free options that work well on a variety of platforms–iOS, Android, Mac/PC/Linux via the web browser, and on the PC whether it is online or off line. My focus is on the use of speech recognition for writing, not on using it to activate or control applications.

Cross-Platform Options (Mac/Windows/Linux)


TalkTyper is by far the best cross platform option I have tried. It is available via a site that functions only in the Google Chrome browser.  TalkTyper also offers high quality text-to-speech so that the person dictating can listen to whatever he or she has written. The user must be online. I’ve recently written about TalkTyper in greater detail in another post.

Install Chrome extension Adblock Plus to automatically remove ads from TalkTyper site that may be in appropriate in a school setting

Voice Search 

Voice Search is a purpose-specific option that is also available on multiple platforms by way of Google’s Chrome browser. Voice Search enables the user to use voice recognition to enter search terms. Voice Search works well for entering search terms, and it also functions well in many other online text boxes. Voice Search is available from the Chrome Web Store as an extension for Chrome. I’ve written more about Voice Search here.

iOS Options (iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad)

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation provides excellent voice-to-text on all iOS devices, as long as those devices are online. In iOS5, text-to-speech is available to read dictated text via the built-in ‘Speak Selection‘.  Please note: text dictated into Dragon Dictation can only be copied to the clipboard if the keyboard is visible on screen. Knowing this is especially important for anyone needing to use Speak Selection to hear what he or she has written. I wrote briefly about Dragon Dictation here.

PaperPort Notes

PaperPort Notes is a free multifaceted note-taking app for the iPad that includes speech recognition for dictation. This app also offers the ability to annotate PDF files, create text boxes, and more. I’ve written more about PaperPort Notes here.

Android Options

Voice recognition works brilliantly on Android handheld devices. My experience has been with Android 4 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”). The default  Android keyboard includes a key showing a microphone, and this brings up Android’s built in voice recognition. Voice to text can be used in any situation where you would otherwise use the keyboard.


flext9 is a free alternative keyboard for Android devices that offers four ways to input text, including voice recognition. In my experience, it works extremely well; and I have set this keyboard as the default on my Android tablet. I have written more about the flext9 here.

It is worth noting that the Evernote app for Android has recently added speech-to-text.

Windows 7 and Vista


The voice recognition built into the Windows 7 and Vista operating systems is excellent, and it is available whether or not the user is online. I have used it, and it works well for me. ars technica has written a detailed overview and review.