Apple wants to improve dictation on its various devices

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20170263248) for “dictation that allows editing” with the goal of improving the dictation features of its various devices, presumably by using Siri.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that modifying dictated and transcribed text is typically accomplished using keyboard inputs. However, users often choose to use dictation for text entry in cases when it would be awkward or inefficient to use a keyboard. In these scenarios, it may be similarly awkward to use a keyboard to edit the resulting transcribed text to fix errors, apply formatting, or otherwise modify the previously transcribed text. 

Existing text editing techniques, such as those based on keyboard inputs, may require more time than necessary and may be more error-prone, wasting user time and device energy. This latter consideration is particularly important in battery-operated devices. 

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Apple says that, accordingly, there is a need for electronic devices with faster, more efficient methods and interfaces for editing text, such as methods for dictation-based text editing. Such methods and interfaces optionally complement or replace other methods for dictating and editing text. Such methods and interfaces reduce the cognitive burden on a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface. For battery-operated computing devices, such methods and interfaces conserve power and increase the time between battery charges. 

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “An electronic device implements dictation-based editing of textual data. The device receives a natural-language user input and determines whether the natural-language user input includes a predefined editing command. If the natural-language user input includes the predefined editing command, the device modifies the textual data in accordance with the predefined editing command. If the natural-language user input does not include the predefined editing command, the device transcribes the natural-language user input and adds the transcribed text to the textual data.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.