Drafts running on iOS 10 and greater has a dictation feature which expands on what has always been available with Siri dictation and the keyboard microphone button. This extended dictation interface uses the Siri dictation engine, but has a few advantages, including:
- Easier access: Dictation can be triggered in more different ways (covered below).
- Multiple language and locale support: Dictation can be used with any language supported by Siri dictation, and languages/locales changed on-the-fly – even within a single dictation session.
- Extended dictation time: Dictate longer segments of text, subject to some system limitations.
As always, if dictation is enabled and supported on the device running Drafts, dictation can be used with the keyboard microphone button as you would in any app on iOS. In addition, Drafts 4.7 adds the following ways to trigger it's custom dictation interface:
Tap and hold the new draft ("+") button: This triggers the Drafts import options menu, which includes a number of commands for importing or creating new drafts - and, now, a "Dictate" option. This option will open dictation to capture into a new draft.
Dictate option in text menu: Tap as if you are placing the cursor anywhere in a draft, to bring up the iOS options menu (the same menu with copy/paste commands) and trigger the "Dictate" option. This will open dictation to insert the resulting text into the current draft at the selected cursor position.
Use the Widget/3D Touch: Tap the microphone (Dictation) button in the Drafts widget, either in the iOS Today view, or via 3D Touch on the Drafts icon on the homescreen. This will launch directly to dictation to capture to a new draft.
Keyboard key: Install or create a Dictation command key in the Drafts extended keyboard. This key will launch dictation to insert into the current draft. This is particularly useful for users with external keyboards, because the key can be assigned a keyboard shortcut enabling access to dictation directly from the external keyboard. A ready to use version assigned to the shortcut CMD-Option-D can be installed from the Action Directory.
This dictation interface is simple, it opens and starts listening for your voice. Dictation can be paused and resumed with the pause button. When you have completed dictation, you must accept the result tapping either the "Create" or "Insert" buttons (depending on how dictation was opened).
The "Cancel" button will discard the dictated text.
The dictation interface will launch with the default iOS system locale/language selected for dictation. At any time you can tap the locale button at the bottom of the window to change your locale/language selection. Dictation will pause and resume when a change is made, but can be continued in a different language, if desired. The locale selection list will show all available locales on the device, but recently selected locales will appear at the top of the list, so once you have used the few you are likely to use they will be easily accessible.
Long Dictation Sessions
Dictation is best suited to the capture of shorter snippets of text, but also supports dictating longer text. Be aware, however, that until a dictation session is completed by tapping the "Create" or "Insert" buttons, the session is temporary and the dictated text will not be saved.
There are iOS system limits on the length of an individual dictation session (around a minute). In longer dictations, Drafts will occasionally have to start a new listening session. When this happens Drafts gives a subtle visual and audio cue to indicate the new session beginning and inserts a "===" break line. Depending on network conditions, speed of dictation return results, etc., a second or two of dictation may be lost at these break point which will need review in the resulting text.
The dictation interface in Drafts can also be accessed via URL scheme, with full x-callback-url support. This allows dictation to be incorporated into Workflow app workflows or other automation flows. A sample for Workflow can be installed, or visit the URL scheme documentation for details. The /dictate URL can also be used to create Drafts actions which launch dictation with a specific language/locale preselected, an example for launching to dictation in Italian is available in the Action Directory.
The availability of dictation is subject to the same limitations as standard system Siri dictation and may not be available at all times. Newer devices support offline dictation in some languages, but not all. Often a network is required to dictate. If you receive consistent errors accessing dictation, please confirm that you have granted Drafts access permissions to both Speech and to use the Microphone in iOS Settings > Privacy.