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Google Docs Gets Voice Typing Update. Is It Worth Testing Out?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on September 04, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Maybe you want to give your poor, carpal tunnel-riddled hands a break from typing. Maybe you're composing a memo on the go. Maybe you just like the sound of your own voice. Whatever the case, you now have more options for getting your words down on paper -- or screen.

You're in luck. On Wednesday, Google announced that it was adding voice typing to Google Docs. Now, instead of pecking at the keyboard, you can simply dictate your thoughts and watch them be transcribed into a document. Of course, like most voice transcription technologies, Google still has a few bugs to work out.

It's Worth a Test Run

Is voice typing worth it? Well, like the rest of Google Docs, it's free. So yes, it's definitely something to test out when you have a moment. (Note, you'll have to be using Google's Chrome browser to get this feature.) Simply open a Google document and enable voice typing from the Tools menu, the start speaking. There's no need for any of that "Okay, Google" and "Yo, Kortana!" stuff.

If you try it out, you'll soon see that Google's voice typing is good, but far from great. First, the good. Voice typing in docs is simple but sophisticated, as one would expect from Google products. When you want to start dictating, you press a little microphone icon and go. The technology does a decent job getting what you're saying down and canceling out background noise. When you've been quiet for awhile, it simply turns itself off, so you don't accidentally start dictating something unintended.

Voice Typing Takes Serious Work

Currently, voice transcription takes way too much massaging to get your final product into decent shape. While it's fairly accurate when it comes to recognizing your words, you'll still have to make a few corrections every line or two. Frequent stops for corrections can completely break your rhythm, undermining one of the virtues of voice dictation, but it will be necessary if you want your sentences to make sense.

Speaking of sentences, if you want to start one, you'll have to say "period" allowed -- along with comma, question mark and any other punctuation. Get used to always saying "it is" and "you are" as well, since voice typing falls apart when it comes to recognizing contractions. Oh, and make sure you keep it clean, too. Voice typing doesn't let you curse.

Our verdict? If you like docs, Google's voice typing update can be pretty helpful. If you've got informal writing that you want to get done quickly, it's great. A simple letter to an employee or note to a friend can survive a few typos and punctuation errors. We could also see people using it to help record client interviews, conference calls and the like. Anything formal or even remotely important, however, you're going to want to do by hand.

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