Offline Dictation on iPhone: False or Vague Promises by the Manufacturer ?

Way back in early 2012, I argued in favor of the benefits of dictation. At that point, I was not yet using (the then-recently-released) Siri. I’ve been pretty happy with Siri in last few years, except for when Internet is unavailable. Apple recently claimed Siri dictation is no longer dependent on Internet. However, even with iOS 15.1.1 ( dictation enabled of course), I am often told “Something Went Wrong Please Try Again?” This tends to happen where Internet is choppy and only when I am dictating via a verbal command (“create a new note”). I can understand that Siri might try to use the Internet, fail and give up trying to create the note (though, really, why not go offline [“on device] all the time for mere dictation requests?) But to fail several times in a row is rather inconvenient.

I’m in Canada. I dictate in English. That combination is supposed to be supported for offline dictation.

Some people claim that rebooting iPhone solves the problem. That’s hard to test because normally I am in transit when dictation fails.

I suspect that, in reality, Siri only performs on device when one triggers dictation via the keyboard button (in a text input field). After all, it is in Keyboard Setting that one enables Siri dictation on iPhone. And like I said, iOS Siri dictation only seems to fail when I dictate new notes, not when I dictate in existing notes.

For a test, I disabled dictation (General > Keyboard) and re-enabled it. Maybe that will force iOS to clean up some buggy dictation-related files. We’ll see how that goes.

Speaking of frustrations with Siri, iOS 15 seems to have done away with “Hey Siri, add to that note saying …” . Maybe that’s for safety reasons?

Still, it’s hard to complain. Even Winston Churchill did not have access to a secretary 24 hours a day.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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