[Athen] Voice recognition on Macs

Shelley Haven ShelleyHaven at techpotential.net
Fri Jul 19 18:10:06 PDT 2019

Hi, Kathy!

At the keynote for Apple’s annual WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) on June 3rd, there were several announcements of interest to the AT community, including the Dragon-like voice control you mention. But first, some basic info:
macOS 10.15, available this fall, will be called Catalina
Includes expanded Voice Control (numbered tags, grid)
If you want to try out a public beta early, you can sign up for Apple’s Beta Software Program at https://beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram <https://beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram>
The iOS version that runs on iPads has grown to be sufficiently distinct from that for iPhones (lots of additional iPad-specific features) that its version now gets a new name: iPadOS.

Apple introduces Neural TTS for Siri
Most of you know that modern TTS voices (those of the last 10-15 years) are based on concatenating phonemes lifted from human-recorded speech. The resulting spoken text sounds mostly human, but the cadence and rhythm are… well, kind of jerky. Neural TTS, created with the help of so-called neural network deep-learning, sounds more human and less synthetic despite being generated entirely by software. The biggest advantage is reduced listening fatigue, very important to those listening to long passages or entire books. Listen to the announcement and the new Siri voice from 1:00:20 to 1:01:45 in the keynote video (you can hear the same scientific text spoken in iOS 12, then the new improved iOS 13.):
https://www.apple.com/apple-events/june-2019/ <https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.apple.com%2Fapple-events%2Fjune-2019%2F&data=02%7C01%7Cqiat%40lsv.uky.edu%7C2ba478745da54b7eb66008d6e8707a08%7C2b30530b69b64457b818481cb53d42ae%7C0%7C0%7C636951967117598103&sdata=B9Noudvgqs0ZsJ3auWu%2B5YbT%2B7PVx9zvLL9a78UDHh8%3D&reserved=0>

Apple introduces Voice Control (available in Catalina)
This is an expanded collection of the current "Dictation Commands" for people with physical motor limitations. Voice Control provides a wide variety of commands for navigating and controlling all aspects of Macs, iPads, and iPhones. Among these are numbered tags for menu items and controls, and screen grids — features reminiscent of those in Dragon for Windows (now that Dragon for Mac is gone). This video shows its capabilities:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqoXFCCTfm4 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqoXFCCTfm4>

Screen Time for Macs
Screen Time <https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fsupport.apple.com%2Fen-us%2FHT208982&data=02%7C01%7Cqiat%40lsv.uky.edu%7C2ba478745da54b7eb66008d6e8707a08%7C2b30530b69b64457b818481cb53d42ae%7C0%7C0%7C636951967117598103&sdata=Z4qeBMRC1gjzYPfgC6m5TjeWy9hxXDpcpXIt9pEY2%2FY%3D&reserved=0>, the iPhone & iPad utility for monitoring usage, managing downtime, and setting limits for access to apps, the Web, and communication contacts, will be available in macOS Catalina this fall.


Shelley Haven ATP, RET
Assistive Technology Consultant

> On Jul 19, 2019, at 12:17 PM, Kathleen Cahill <kcahill at MIT.EDU> wrote:


> Hi Colleagues,


> I’ve written previously to talk about the decision by Nuance to stop supporting Dragon Professional Individual for Mac (formerly Dragon for Mac), which has left a huge gap in the voice recognition arena, especially for users who need to control the mouse with their voice and use custom vocabularies. There is a very in-depth article on the topic at https://tidbits.com/2019/01/21/nuance-has-abandoned-mac-speech-recognition-will-apple-fill-the-void/ <https://tidbits.com/2019/01/21/nuance-has-abandoned-mac-speech-recognition-will-apple-fill-the-void/>


> As I was reading through the comments, someone mentioned that Apple is planning to add some of this functionality to their built-in dictation with the next version of the Mac OS. “At the recent announcement of the next Mac OS a new feature called Voice control was announced. It sounds like this feature will allow voice-based control of the mouse, via commands and a grid.” That comment was from June 8th of this year.


> So, that’s good news. I hope it happens soon.


> Have a good weekend,

> Kathy



> Kathy Cahill

> Associate Dean, Accessibility and Usability

> MIT Division of Student Life

> 77 Mass. Ave. 7-143

> Cambridge MA 02139

> kcahill at mit.edu <mailto:kcahill at mit.edu>

> (617) 253-5111




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