Sometimes, one happens to come across something that’s just downright awesome. Have you ever wanted to simply…talk to your computer, instead of having to type everything out? Turns out, some userscripts just surfaced at Userscript.org that enables text to speech functionality in Google Chrome. Are you as intrigued as I am? Keep reading.
Speakable Textareas is…well, pretty much what it sounds like. Basically, it adds a little microphone to areas where you can enter text. Clicking that microphone will activate your computer system’s mike, at which point you can pretty much…well, just talk. The userscript basically does the rest, recording your voice and converting it to text. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s anything but perfect.
Some Minor Problems
The main issue I have with the software is that it doesn’t want to play nice with WordPress- that is, the microphone appears in every text field except the field where one types the actual post. As such, I’m sorry to say that I’m not typing this with my voice- I’m doing it the old fashioned way. Plus, it seems to wreak havoc with the software that keeps track of the word count. That is, it kind of stops working. Not sure about the reason behind either of the issues, but they’re annoying, just the same. Granted, that could be on WordPress’s end, as well- though it started working properly again once I uninstalled the script from Chrome.
There’s another issue as well, though it’s one that’s easily rectified. See, voice recognition software has always had a minor problem…people speak in vastly different fashions all across the world, and sometimes accents or verbal quirks can tend to…muddy things a bit. I’ll give an example. Here’s the phrase that I spoke into the extension(without including punctuation or taking care to clearly and carefully enunciate each word):
“This is a test. I am determining whether or not Speakable Textareas is functional. Once I’ve figured that out, I will be composing a review about the userscript.”
And this is what it gave me:
“this is a test I’m determined weather not suitable text areas is functional 15 degrees adult probation golden review of the district”
So I guess it’s not all bad- you can get some pretty amusing results, all told. Ultimately, though…I’d call this a novelty at best. The slow speed at which you need to speak doesn’t really make it all that practical, and though the fact that you can insert punctuation by speaking it (comma, period, exclamation, question mark…et-cetera), again…kind of tedious.
But hey, apparently Josh Mandel, the developer of the script, coded it with a broken arm. That’s pretty cool, right? One thing he did say is that it’s sort of a ‘quick and dirty’ piece of coding, apologizing for what a mess it was- which, I’d say, implies that he might be working on a more polished version at some time in the future. Look forward to it, folks.
You can grab speakable textareas for yourself here.