What Is Voice Texting on a Cell Phone?
By Aaron Charles
Voice texting on a cell phone is a piece of technology that brings users a little closer to the dreamworlds of "The Jetsons" or "Star Trek." More commonly known as speech-to-text technology, voice texting lets you speak a message into your cell phone while your phone converts the message into text.
At the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the tech company Samsung revealed VoiceMode, the first speech-to-text application for mobile phones. Consumer demand for such technology evidently came from the increasing popularity of text messaging and the desire to create texts more easily -- especially when considering the cramped space on a typical mobile phone keyboard. This new hands-free technology gave mobile phone users a new tool to play with, while also beginning a new phase of how people interact with their cell phones.
After Samsung's big reveal, other mobile phone manufacturers followed suit, creating apps for cell phone platforms including Google's Android and Apple's iOS. In particular, there's the ShoutOut app for both Android and iOS and Voice Assistant for iOS (links in Resources). But manufacturers have also begun to make speech-to-text capability a built-in feature on phones, such as with the iPhone's "Siri" and speech recognition features in Google's Nexus line of phones.
Because of the hands-free nature that voice texting gives to the mobile phone user experience, some now feel tempted to text with their voice while driving -- even if traditional texting is banned in their area. In fact, California law says that texting via speech-to-text technology while driving is completely legal, in spite of evidence suggesting that it's still a distraction and danger to drivers. But hands-free texting in other states could get you into trouble, so check to see what the laws are in your area.
There's also an inverse form of voice texting -- text-to-speech instead of speech-to-text. The text-to-speech technology is available on both Android and iOS platforms, and is especially useful for the blind. Beyond voice texting, smartphone users might eventually find it more convenient or popular to send messages with instant messaging programs, such as on Facebook, Skype, or Google Chat, either with speech-to-text technology or traditional texting technology.
Aaron Charles began writing about "pragmatic art" in 2006 for an online arts journal based in Minneapolis, Minn. After working for telecom giant Comcast and traveling to Oregon, he's written business and technology articles for both online and print publications, including Salon.com and "The Portland Upside."