All Android phones must have on-device voice typing


C. Scott Brown/Android Authority

To help entice buyers to invest in the Pixel ecosystem, Google is strictly locking down some cool features on Pixel devices. Magic Eraser is a good example (it “magically” erases objects from photographs) as is Call Screen (Google Assistant answers your phone call so you can manage telemarketers). Another example is on-device voice input, which is currently exclusive to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series.

If you are using the voice-to-text feature on a non-Pixel phone, you will face some limitations. First, you’ll need to speak a little slower than normal because your phone will take a few milliseconds to process each word. Second, you’ll need to dictate punctuation, such as “period” or “comma.” The third is that you’ll have to go back and correct things when you’re done speaking, because the system isn’t accurate when it comes to syntax, homophones, numbers, etc.

See also: The best Pixel-only features explained

The voice input system of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 phones, also known as Assistant voice input on Gboard, does not have these issues, however. You don’t need to dictate punctuation as Google Assistant can handle it automatically as you speak. You can talk at normal speed and you don’t need to lay down as much at the end. As added bonuses, you can even manually fix things as you go without needing to mute and unmute voice typing over and over, and you can type an emoji describing it. It is, universally, a better experience.

Voice typing on the Pixel 6 and 7 is a universally better experience than on any other Android phone.

It’s such a shame that Google locks this down on Pixels. I think everyone with a compatible Android phone should benefit from this feature.

Voice input on a Pixel 7: an eye-opening experience

Google voice typing on the Pixel 7

C. Scott Brown/Android Authority

Normally, I text with my voice for two reasons: I’m driving or I know I have a lot of text to send and it will be faster to say it than to type it. With the Pixel 7 Pro, however, I find myself using my voice more often than not because it’s so quick and precise. Even though I’m sitting at my desk and can easily pick up the phone and type, I’ll choose to use my voice instead.

This fast and accurate way of typing is changing the way I use my phone.

It might not seem like a big deal, but it fundamentally changes the way I use my phone. I don’t even need to touch it anymore. I can just say “Hey Google, text dad,” and the phone will open a message prompt for my dad. I can then say what I want to send to him like I would if he was sitting right next to me.

Obviously, I can do this with most modern Android phones, as there are a ton that support the Google Assistant wake word. But if you try this with a phone that isn’t a Pixel 6 or Pixel 7, you’re probably going to have a bad time. Words won’t be transcribed correctly, your emoji request won’t be understood, and you’ll have to speak slowly to avoid things getting mixed up. With the Pixel 7 Pro, however, it’s effortless.

This feature alone makes me wonder how I would go back to a non-Pixel. This sounds like great news for Google, but I think it’s important for everyone to have access to it.

Do you like the new voice input experience on Pixel 6 and 7 series?

248 votes

Everyone should have access

Voice input services

C. Scott Brown/Android Authority

I understand Google’s Tensor chips make this functionality possible. This is Tensor’s intention: not to focus on raw power and to tweak certain aspects of the chipset architecture to improve machine learning and AI functionality. This is why this feature does not appear on older non-Tensor pixels. But other chips are quite capable of picking up voice on the device, and Google should help bring it to as many people as possible.

Related: The Google Tensor G2 against the competition

We contacted Google about the feasibility of this port. Google dodged answering our question directly, but did confirm that it builds its apps on the Android NN API which, in theory, would allow those apps to work on other platforms that provide drivers for the APIs including Qualcomm, Mediatek, Samsung, etc. In other words, it looks like it’s possible, but Google would have to make it happen.

Despite this necessary effort, I think it is important because it provides more accessibility and better security. People who struggle with typing for whatever reason (arthritis, injuries, permanent mobility issues, etc.) should be able to use high-quality voice input without needing to get a Pixel. Google obviously has the right to launch exclusive features for Pixels, but locking better accessibility behind a paywall is not an ethical way to go. Locking Magic Eraser behind a paywall makes sense, for example, but doing the same for a system that helps disadvantaged people make better use of their phones doesn’t.

Paywalling features that make phones more secure and accessible aren’t appealing.

Likewise, better voice input encourages people to put down their phones while driving. I definitely tried using my voice while driving, got frustrated that things didn’t go the way I wanted, then I just gave up and used my fingers. It’s not good at all, because my eyes have to be on the road, not on my phone. Again, the paywalling features that make life safer for everyone aren’t great.

While Google won’t bring the high-quality voice input of the Pixels to everyone, hopefully it will at least bring the current version closer to that quality. Most people are probably like me and don’t even know how much better things could be.


About Author

Comments are closed.