One of the many annoyances that I found with the iPhone over Android was the latter’s deep speech-to-text integration, and lack thereof in the former. iPhone has voice commands, granted, but they don’t provide a proper speech-to-text experience. Thanks to the jailbreak community, you can now easily convert speech to text on your iOS device with the VoiceKeys jailbreak tweak.
Convert what you speak to text
Available on BigBoss repo for free (find out what are the other great Cydia repos), VoiceKeys allows you to convert what you speak to text messages, notes, reminders, emails and anything else you like to your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (jailbroken, of course). It will add an option convert speech to text and allow you to speak to your phone wherever a text input field is present, irrespective of the app you’re in.
VoiceKeys utilizes Google’s Speech Recognition service which offers users the ability to convert what you speak to text rather than typing it. There is no Springboard icon whatsoever; all aspects are controlled from within the native Settings app where a few parameters are present to configure, like capitalizing first word, ending a sentence automatically with a period, etc.
Configuring and using VoiceKeys is relatively easy. This tweak has two dependencies, namely Speex and Action Menu, both of which are installed with the program itself. Speex provides the necessary libraries for usage by VoiceKeys while Action Menu allows you to enable it. In case you’re not aware, Action Menu extends the capabilities of the popup menu that you’re presented with once you tap a text input field in iOS. With VoiceKeys installed, you get an extra option of activating the speech recognition engine in the popup menu, as illustrated by the screenshot below.
You will, however, need to first enable VoiceKeys within Action Menu’s settings, which can also be found under Extensions in iOS’ native Settings.app.
How well does VoiceKeys convert speech to text?
Performance of the speech to text converter itself is reasonably good. To achieve the best results as you convert speech to text, you’ll want to speak rather clear and slow. Consider this example below; where the system correctly interpreted my sentence:
However, I wasn’t that lucky with this next one here:
What I actually said was, “What’s going on over there” but somehow it got transcribed as “What’s going on with you.” Not too accurate, but you get the general idea. After a couple of hours of usage, I’m inclined to believe that the software will be most accurate when your speech is clear and slow.
Convert speech to text with VoiceKeys – Conclusion
Overall, I find VoiceKeys to be a highly useful speech to text tweak. It is not going to replace everyday typing on the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad – not by even a long shot – but it will come in quite handy for those who find it easier to speak a sentence, despite typing being quicker. This is also particularly helpful for situations like driving, when you don’t want to take your eyes of the road or be distracted with trying to hit the right key combinations.
On a final note, since VoiceKeys utilizes Google’s Speech Recognition service, it requires an active internet connection to work.
Give VoiceKeys a go, even if just for fun (we have used Talking Tom Cat too, after all). It may serve as a sneak peak to the promised system-wide speech compatibility in iOS 5. Have you used a speech to text converter on your iPhone? Let us know your thoughts through your comments.