In this article I’ll talk about using your Android device as a dictate box for your CAT tool or any other program where you need to type on your computer. Before going into specifics of this little recipe, let us overview the components in general. You’ll need these ingredients:
- Android keyboard that has a voice recognition option.
- Android application that works as a remote keyboard for your computer.
- Desktop application that receives input from the Android remote app.
There are quite a few nice Android keyboards and Android remote controls out there that would allow you to brew a similar goody, but I’ll describe what I believe is the most efficient mix.
- Swype keyboard. While Swype keyboard is quite cool by itself, one of its strongest point is voice recognition functionality. It uses Dragon Dictate engine (online only) which often works much more accurately than Google’s. The list of supported languages can be found here. There’s a fully functional trial version of Swype, but the full version costs less than one US dollar and is definitely worth every penny.
- AIO Remote. “AIO Remote” stands for “All In One Remote,” and the app seems to be very true to its name. Admittedly, the variety of Android remote controls is huge, but AIO Remote is found to be the only one that successfully transmits non-Latin characters to the remote desktop. When you try to send non-Latin text from all the others that have been tried, they either don’t send anything, or send just spaces, or Latin characters that presumably are somehow related to the typed non-Latin ones (although I couldn’t figure out exactly what the relation is).
Before the remote can be used, you must tell it what computer it needs to talk to. It will be saved as a list item, and next time connecting will be done with just two clicks.
There are two versions of AIO Remote: Free and Pro. They are almost identical, but Pro lets you create your custom remote controls which can be very helpful if you want to use only your Android device for all the inputs, and not to touch keyboard and mouse at all.
- AIO Remote Desktop. It’s a Java (thus cross-platform) application that must be run on your computer where your CAT tool (or other program where you want to dictate to) runs. It doesn’t need to be installed and can be run from any location. Fired up, it will sit in the system tray. The AIO Remote on your Android will send inputs, and AIO Remote Desktop will take them and turn them into keyboard and mouse events.
When we have all the ingredients ready, let’s try to mix them together:
- Fire up AIO Remote Desktop. Note Server WiFi IP adress on the first tab:
- Fire up AIO Remote on your Android device, press Connect button (on bigger devices it can be located in the upper right corner), add your computer where AIO Remote Desktop is running:
- Connect and run Mouse Pad control on your Android Device:
- On your computer, focus the app/window/input field where you want to type/dictate to:
- From the Mouse Pad, we can test the dictate functionality. To do that, press SHOWTEXTINPUT. Then activate Dragon Dictate thing (hitting the mic icon), and dictate your text:
- Hit OK and get the recognized text in the application that was focused on the Desktop:
That is only the test case to see if the functionality we need is there and how accurate voice recognition is. Using it like that is far from effective as you’ll have to switch to your mouse and keyboard quite often. In the next article I’ll describe how to build a custom remote control in AIO Remote (or get a prebuilt one) to be able to use only you phone or tablet instead of keyboard and mouse (it will be geared for OmegaT, but the principle will apply to other CAT tools and/or editors).
But as of now,