Microsoft has just announced a new feature for its Office productivity suite that allows users to type with their voice, and it’s all possible thanks to a new project from Microsoft Garage.
Simply called Dictate, the new dictation feature for Microsoft Office was developed by the Garage division within the company and is based on the Bing Speech API that is also being used by digital assistant Cortana.
Furthermore, it uses Microsoft Translator to offer support for 20 languages, while real-time text translation is available for 60 languages, with more to be added in the coming updates.
“For many of us, typing takes up a lot of time. Every day, you’re writing emails, drafting documents, sending instant messages and creating presentations. Initially built as a prototype during an annual Microsoft hackathon, the project quickly grew its fan base with more than 1,500 employees in more than 40 countries,” Microsoft explains.
Voice commands also supported
With this feature, users can simply have their spoken words converted to text in Microsoft Office apps like Word and Outlook, but the company says that Dictate also supports commands to create new lines, delete, add punctuation, and format text.
The supported commands are: new line, delete, stop dictation, full stop, period, question mark, open quote, close quote, colon, and comma, with more to be added as the company improves Dictate.
At this point, the add-in is only available for Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook, but there’s no doubt that there are already plans to bring it to other platforms as well.
The add-in requires Windows 8.1 or later, Office 2013 or later, .NET Framework 4.5.0 or later and can only be used on Windows. 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available, depending on your Office build.
If your system meets the aforementioned requirements, you can download Dictate for Microsoft Office using this link, but keep in mind that this is just the very first public release and some things might not work entirely as expected. So give it some time, send feedback, and future versions should be substantially better.