Voice-to-text might not be the first feature you think of on your smartphone, but it’s one that can really enhance how useful your device really is. With its Pixel 6 last year, Google debuted a new speech-to-text experience that blew away everything before it, and now, it’s time for that experience to come to other Android phones.
In 2021, Google released a new version of voice-to-text on Android that was exclusive to its Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and is also now available on the Pixel 6a. This new system is powered by the same language model that makes the “new Google Assistant” possible, and put simply, it works.
…but the thing I’ve really found myself loving is the new voice typing in Gboard that’s powered by Assistant. It’s incredibly fast and accurate, and the automatic punctuation is really the killer feature. I’ve never felt so confident using voice-to-text while walking or in the car (which we should all keep to an absolute minimum regardless). You can even make edits to what’s been dictated without the voice option being turned off.
Nearing a year later, that’s an experience I’ve truly missed every time I’ve been on a non-Pixel device.
But what’s remained infuriating almost daily on that device is voice-to-text. The experience of using voice-to-text with Gboard on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the same one you’ll find on every other Android phone. Google powers it, and it works reasonably well, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to what’s happening on the Pixel 6 series. Constantly I find myself sending messages that are riddled with typos or incorrect words, which has resulted in some truly hilarious Slack messages to the rest of the 9to5Google team.
Most recently, the worst offender was in trying to send a tweet. From my Fold 4, I’d captured a shot of the moon using the phone’s 30x “Space Zoom,” and I was reasonably impressed by it! In sending that in a tweet, Gboard’s transcription couldn’t even get the phone’s name right, instead saying that the “full for” can take a decent moon shot.
The real kicker, though, is with punctuation. I’d forgotten just how annoying it is to have to verbally yell out for my phone to include a comma, or a period, or any other form of punctuation when, back on Pixel, it was completely automatic. And even better than that, it was accurate with the punctuation, too!
Of course, this is something that, if anything, just gives the Pixel 6 and future Google…