Composing messages via speech recognition will soon be faster and will also work offline. Google is introducing offline speech recognition on Android, an advanced innovation that will be the first to be available on Pixel smartphones.
The old speech recognition explained
Speech recognition has been available on Android devices for years but in a limited form. Because the technology consumes a lot of power and storage space, speech recognition always took place on Google servers. Did you say “I’ll be home soon” to your smartphone, then that input was sent to the cloud? Complex software understands what you say and sends the words ‘I’ll be home soon’ back to your phone, which then displays the text on the screen.
There are several disadvantages to this method. You always need a good internet connection, because speech recognition does not work offline. And because the words and text are sent back and forth, there is a delay between your pronunciation and the actual input on the screen.
New: offline speech recognition on Android
Google has recently taken steps to improve speech recognition. By compressing (reducing) the digital infrastructure of speech recognition, the required software has been reduced to such an extent that it still takes up little storage memory. About 80MB, Google writes in a blog post. The speech recognition therefore no longer needs to work online, but can be done locally on your smartphone. Due to technical improvements, technology would consume little power.
The two advantages of offline voice recognition on Android: it always works (so even without an internet connection) and the delay time is minimal. Google claims that speech recognition can keep you up to date. All this sounds promising, but you still have to be patient.
For the time being, Google will only bring offline speech recognition to Pixel smartphones that are not officially for sale in the Netherlands. In addition, the feature only works with the Gboard app and not with other keyboard apps such as SwiftKey. The third snag: American-English speech is now the only supported language. Google hopes that offline speech recognition will become available ‘quickly’ in more languages, but does not provide any concrete information.