Google has made strides in what it can do with voice technology. While last year it started offering voice transcription on Pixel devices, there were hints as to how Google is looking to develop the technology at I / O 2019. Now there are hints that the New Google Assistant could soon be used to make hands-free voice typing available on Gboard.
Hidden lines of code
We’re not just talking about text-to-speech here, as it wouldn’t really be anything special in the tech world right now. After some of the hands-free voice input capability was showcased at I / O 2019, 9to5google “decompiled” the latest version of an app that Google added to the Play Store. They decompiled the APKs and found lines of code indicating future functionality. The website has interpreted the lines of code and thinks it understands how this feature will work.
When this functionality becomes reality on Gboard, the virtual keyboard prompts the user to “Press the microphone to chat hands-free”. A new interface would be launched and superimposed on the keyboard.
This would cause users to be prompted to “Speak now to type hands-free”. There would be three radio buttons at the top: “Close”, “Delete” and “Send”. These quotes appear on the radio buttons, making it look like the user can either press the radio button or say the word.
The Assistant bar appears at the bottom of the screen while the user is speaking and offers suggestions such as “Keep talking” when the text appears at the top. This is where you can see that it is more than just text to speech as the whole operation is hands free, for use on any app where the user would need to enter text.
It looks like the new Google Assistant will be needed to access this feature, and that’s how it was demoed at I / O 2019. It was then used to compose an email in Gmail, including typing text, the subject line, and the same “send it” that were described in Gboard.
Where is it going?
The question is, where does hands-free voice typing go and what more could be done with this technology? Are we going to completely remove typing and keyboards so that everything can be done with voice?
Personally, I hope that is not the way it will take. As a writer, typing is part of my process. When I tried to use the text-to-speech function, I found it difficult to “write”. I need my hands.
However, hands-free voice typing would definitely be good for others in accessibility situations.
If Gboard isn’t quite for you, check out five of the best Gboard alternatives for Android users.
Image Credit: YouTube on 9to5Google
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