Talk to Type Chinese – Baidu Gets What You Mean

Talk to Type Chinese – Baidu Gets What You Mean

Tired of searching for the proper characters to text your friends in Chinese? Or do you speak Chinese but are terrible at writing it? Looking for the quickest way to put down text in words? Baidu Input is a surprisingly accurate application for your smartphone that will turn your spoken Mandarin into text – picking out the right characters for you. 

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Voice recognition has been around for years, but those who use smartphones probably have found themselves frustrated and screaming at Iphone’s ‘Siri’, Samsung’s ‘S Voice’ or comparable voice recognition functions, as these applications are still experiencing difficulties in putting our spoken words into text. Google Chrome has applications where you can use voice recognition to type out texts, or search Google by saying your search terms out loud. Nevertheless, these functions are all still far from perfect. The ones that are about 95% accurate, like Dragon Naturally Speaking, cost a fair amount of money. Considering the fact that English voice recognition still has a long way to go, I was especially astonished when I came across the convenient Chinese voice recognition function in Baidu’s free input app for your smartphone (website: 白度输入法).

Baidu’s input app offers a practical keyboard for those using both Chinese and English on their phone. You can easily switch between Chinese and English and can choose multiple ways of insertion. The keyboard also allows you to send handwritten notes, drawings and voice recordings. The coolest and most amazing function of this app, however, is its voice recognition that puts your spoken Mandarin into characters. No matter how fast you speak, Baidu gets it. What makes this extra special for an interested layman (like me) is that Baidu actually ‘understands’ which characters to use in the context of the sentence, arguably making it a far more advanced form of voice recognition than its English counterparts. Although it seems like nothing this accurate exists in English, no one seems to be paying attention to this function of the Baidu input keyboard. How did they do it? And why is nobody talking about this? Wake up people, this is great! Not only does it allow speakers of Chinese to send text messages or emails with incredible speed, it is also perfect for those who speak the language but are not good at writing it, or for the eager students of Chinese who want to practice their tones (Baidu will only type the proper characters if your tones are more or less correct). This app also recognizes when you make a short pause in a sentence, and automatically punctuates it for you without having to say commands like ‘new sentence’ or ‘comma’, like some dictation programs do require.

All in all, the Baidu Input Keyboard opens up many new opportunities for communicating with your Chinese-speaking friends in a rapid and convenient way, and deserves a top spot amongst your smartphone apps. Enjoy!

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Image: The Baidu app accurately types up the sentences you say in Mandarin.

How to get it:

For Android users: search for ‘Baidu input’ in Play Store and “白度输入法” will pop up. Download it, and install the keyboard as your standard keyboard. To switch between keyboards, just tap the keyboard icon on the left upper corner of your screen when you type, and you will be able to go back to your standard one in seconds. For Iphone/Ipad users, according to the website, this app should be available for Apple users (白度输入法) but I have not been able to activate the keyboard on my Iphone. Any suggestions? Please leave a comment or twitter me @manyapan.

Interested in others apps for studying Chinese? I have made a top ten list of smartphone apps for studying Chinese earlier this year (link).

 

Manya Koetse

 

P.S. Many thanks to my dear friend Ryan Myers for pointing out this app to me.

 

 

 

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4 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Gloria Liu says:

    How to make Baidu keyboard understand English voice input as well?

    Does Baidu keyboard understand English voice recognition??

    Thanks!

    Gloria

  2. Howard Chu says:

    Very Nice app. It’s worth trying. One day it will be a default app for everyone to use.

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