Apple

5 ways to use Apple voice dictation

blogEntryThumbnailAs I've had access to voice dictation on my Apple MacBook Pro and iPhone for the last year or so, I have been using it more and more to increase productivity (as long as it’s working properly). I use voice dictation several times each day for leisure and professional purposes. Here are 5 ways that I use voice dictation on the MacBook Pro and iPhone:

1. Composing multi-paragraph documents

Since it can be difficult for me at times to begin writing a multi-paragraph document, voice dictation gets me started and keeps me going when writing blog posts, reports and proposals. I just have to remember to dictate formatting (e.g., “new line,” “new paragraph”) and punctuation statements (e.g., “comma,” “period,” “question mark”), then proofread the document carefully for dictation errors. Otherwise, the document appears as a poorly formatted written composition with typos.

It’s also important to note that voice dictation can only convert a limited amount of speech (approximately 30s) to text. It takes some time to feel comfortable with continually activating voice dictation after each chunk of text is converted. Just remain patient and you will soon see how composing sentences and paragraphs via voice is significantly faster than typing.

2. Brainstorming and reminding

When I have a thought that I don’t want to forget, I use voice dictation to brainstorm ideas and set reminders. Whether I have a good idea for an app feature, or I need to remember to take out the trash, voice dictation enables me to do either quickly. The efficiency is great because I’m typically in the middle of doing something else.

3. Calendaring events

Using Siri (the intelligent iOS assistant), I can quickly and easily schedule an event such as a staff meeting. For example, I can activate Siri and say, “Schedule a staff meeting for Tuesday, April 9th at 2 PM.” Then, all I need to do is confirm the event and configure additional options such as an alert.

4. Finding contact information for businesses

If I’m somewhere unfamiliar, I can use Siri to help me find a business. For example, if I’m on a work trip and I want to go out for food, I use Siri to ask, “Where are nearby restaurants?” The results provide nearby restaurant information with hours, a map, and reviews from Yelp to help me find quality food.

5. Texting and emailing

Texting is very easy with voice dictation, especially since abbreviations are acceptable input and punctuation is rarely necessary. Emailing with voice dictation has a slightly higher learning curve, but it’s not impossible. Similar to writing multi-paragraph documents, it’s important to use dictation commands for formatting and punctuation. Additionally, it may seem a little strange at first to dictate emails when others are around, but it soon feels similar to talking on the phone in public.
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iPad mini vs. 3rd generation iPad

Yesterday, my pre-ordered iPad Mini was delivered to our house. I wasn’t sure how much I would like it and immediately wanted to compare it to my existing 3rd generation iPad. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the iPad mini stacked up to its bigger counterpart, particularly in terms of speed and performance. See below for a video of side-by-side tests with the two devices.
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Apple iOS 6 update - considerations and issues for apps

blogEntryThumbnailOn September 19, 2012, Apple will have their iOS 6 update available via the desktop iTunes app, or over-the-air on iOS devices. The update is compatible with the iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2, iPad 3, and the fourth generation iPod touch. If you plan to update to iOS 6, be cautious about doing it immediately because your 3rd party apps could have issues. In many cases, developers need to update their apps to be compatible with iOS 6. If their apps are not updated for iOS 6 support, bugs and crashes can occur. The problem for developers, including myself, is that the iOS 6 gold master (final beta for testing) was released one week ago. This means that developers only had a week with the gold master and their apps to test, fix, submit, and receive Apple approval. Well, that can be quite difficult when the average app review time is currently 9 days!

For users, choosing to update to iOS 6 is appealing, but it’s important to think carefully about when to update. Like other people, I’m eager to get the great new features from Apple including Maps, Passbook, Guided Access, and more. But, if I wasn’t a developer and I had to do a presentation in the next week or therapy that required extensive iOS device use, I likely would wait at least a couple weeks to update to iOS 6. That way developers have a sufficient amount of time for Apple to approve app updates supporting iOS 6.

As an app developer, I have four apps that needed to be updated for iOS 6 support. StoryPals, ArtikPix, and ArtikPix - Full updates have been submitted to Apple and are currently waiting for review. And an update for PhonoPix - Full will be submitted in the coming days. The updates will resolve the following known issues in the existing versions of my apps running iOS 6:

StoryPals (On 9/20/12, Apple approved the update for iOS 6 support)
- Text-to-Speech does not play continuously in stories
- Taking/using photos cause a crash

ArtikPix/ArtikPix - Full/PhonoPix - Full (On 9/22/12, Apple approved the ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full updates for iOS 6 support. On 10/5/12, The PhonoPix - Full update for iOS 6 support was approved by Apple.)
- Voice recording causes the apps to freeze
- Unnecessary comma in timestamps for scores
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