Gboard is getting faster, on-device voice dictation support on Pixel phones
Gboard is the first-party keyboard solution to many Android devices. A lot of the features rely on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and neural networks. One such feature is voice dictation a.k.a speech-to-text. While you are speaking to your device, it securely sends your voice to the cloud where it’s processed, transformed into text, and then sent back to your device, laid out on the screen. This has been the traditional method for processing the voice data for a very long time now, but Google is changing that.
To support more privacy-friendly and improved security methods, Google is bringing offline, on-device processing to the Pixel phones. Now, this method has numerous advantages. First of all, it doesn’t require an internet connection. The previous method required either WiFi or mobile data to send and retrieve information to and from the cloud. Not relying on an internet connection for your keyboard application is definitely an improvement. Second of all, the offline processing method provides reduced latency and unreliability issues.
Google explains this by giving us a glimpse of how voice recognition software searched for the proper pieces of data on the cloud. The “search graph,” which consists of language models, acoustic and pronunciation, was apparently 2GB in size. That’s not very convenient for the searching speeds, and as it’s now going to be hosted on our devices, not very convenient for storage, too. Via sophisticated compression and decoding technologies, Google managed to bring down the size to 450MB first and then finally to 80MB.
We already knew this feature was coming to Gboard as we first saw it back in October of 2018. What we didn’t know, though, is that this feature is only coming to Google Pixel devices. I have a feeling that sooner or later this feature will roll out to all Android devices, as many Google-exclusive features do. You can enable the feature from the Gboard settings under the “Voice typing” category. If you don’t see it, we suggest you update Gboard to the latest version. The Play Store listing of the application is below.
Source: Google AI Blog