How to activate and use Voice Dictation via the iPad and iPhone onscreen keyboard

The onscreen keyboard on the iPhone 4S and iPad (3rd Generation) has a new feature, Voice Dictation. This will provide speech recognition capabilities integrated right there via the keyboard.

To activate this feature open the Settings app on the iPad or iPhone, select “General’, then select “Keyboards”. Here is a screen shot from the iPad.

The “Dictation” option needs to be turned on. Again, this is only available on the iPad (3rd Generation) and the iPhone 4S running the latest version of iOS.

With this selected, the Voice Dictation microphone icon will now appear on a key next to the spacebar on the keyboard.

To use this feature:

1. Open a document in Notes, Pages etc and tap on the document to activate the keyboard.

2. Tap the Dictation key and dictate the text to be inserted in the document. When finished dictating, tap the Dictation key again and your text will appear in the document.

3. Repeat to include more text via Dictation.

If you are using speech recognition in the classroom, you may be interested in this blog posting – Speech Recognition Software:  An Assistive Technology Solution for the Classroom

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About Greg O'Connor

Greg has been actively involved in supporting the learning of people with diverse learning needs for over 30 years. During this time he has worked as a classroom teacher, school executive, district consultant and regional manager with the New South Wales Department of Education and Training, Australia. Greg’s areas of interest and expertise include supporting people with complex needs, challenging behaviours and autism, and literacy support technologies for people with diverse learning needs. He is passionately committed to the use of inclusive and instructional technologies to support the learning of ALL students in school and post school settings. Greg presents at national and international conferences, provides training and consultancy across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, is currently a committee member of NSW Australian Association of Special Education, and is the Professional and Consultancy Services Manager at Spectronics.

14 Responses to How to activate and use Voice Dictation via the iPad and iPhone onscreen keyboard

  1. Cindy says:

    Hi, I just purchased from itunes this app: Voice Dictation – Voice To SMS, Email, Facebook, Twitter And Other Apps
    By AppSimo

    My purpose is to transcribe voice memos from my iphone into text.

    Can you tell me how to do this?

    Thank you!


  2. Rachel says:

    Greg, I’ve tried looking to turn the dictation on for my iPhone 4s and it is not coming up as an option. It has the latest version update so can you give me any more advice?

  3. Joe Bloe says:

    Siri has to be enabled to see this option. It’s disabled by default.

  4. Sonia Minino says:

    Why is it that sometimes the voice dictation mic appears available, and sometimes is unavailable (greyed)? No changes in the configuration of the iphone, just sometimes it is, and sometimes it is not.


    • Charlene Cullen says:

      Hi Sonia,
      Upon reading some blogs online I have discovered that this is a bit of a bug which hopefully might be ironed out with the new iOS7 which will be released soon. It’s related to the memory of the phone getting low. An apparent fix is to make sure you force quit all the apps that are open. You can do this by double clicking the home button and then hold your finger down on an app. Once you see the red circle and the apps jiggle you can tap on each one to close it. Once you free up the memory you are more likely to get dictation being operational again.

  5. Alan Russ says:

    The App works brilliantly.
    When I’ve finished a recording, I have to send it somewhere, (open or save it)
    I want to have several documents open on the App and running at the same time. Is there a way I can be adding to keep several texts open on the Voice to Text App without closing them or moving them.
    Can you run folders in this App?

  6. Barbara says:

    Actually, we simply powered the phone (A 5c) off, then restarted it. And, the dictation mic now works just fine!

  7. Anne says:

    I am using the microphone on the keyboard of the template face of the fourth-generation iPad. It works great, but I bought an expensive zagg keyboard to sync it with Bluetooth and it works well and props my tablet at a nice angle. However, I do not get a microphone on this hardware keyboard. Can’t I make it work?

    • Charlene Cullen says:

      Hi Anne,
      Unfortunately no. I don’t think there is a keyboard shortcut for the bluetooth keyboard to activate the microphone. This list gives some useful keyboard shortcuts
      But it would certainly be great to have a shortcut for the dictation feature. Perhaps something to recommend to Apple?

  8. John says:

    My Personal Secretary – Voice Assistant – It has almost every feature! The language feature is awesome!

  9. Bryce says:

    I use this feature on the road for work every day. Sometimes I don’t get service and I can’t use this voice recognition feature, because it uses the Internet to transcribe your voice. Do they have a way to use a off-line version, without a third-party app?

    • Charlene Cullen says:

      Hi Bryce,
      I’ve looked at Dragon, the Apple Siri voice to text option and as you’ve noted they won’t work offline. I am not aware of any other options. I wonder if you could just do voice notes whilst on the road and then play them later to get voice to text?

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