5 ways to use Apple voice dictation

blogEntryThumbnailAs I've had access to voice dictation on my Apple MacBook Pro and iPhone for the last year or so, I have been using it more and more to increase productivity (as long as it’s working properly). I use voice dictation several times each day for leisure and professional purposes. Here are 5 ways that I use voice dictation on the MacBook Pro and iPhone:

1. Composing multi-paragraph documents

Since it can be difficult for me at times to begin writing a multi-paragraph document, voice dictation gets me started and keeps me going when writing blog posts, reports and proposals. I just have to remember to dictate formatting (e.g., “new line,” “new paragraph”) and punctuation statements (e.g., “comma,” “period,” “question mark”), then proofread the document carefully for dictation errors. Otherwise, the document appears as a poorly formatted written composition with typos.

It’s also important to note that voice dictation can only convert a limited amount of speech (approximately 30s) to text. It takes some time to feel comfortable with continually activating voice dictation after each chunk of text is converted. Just remain patient and you will soon see how composing sentences and paragraphs via voice is significantly faster than typing.

2. Brainstorming and reminding

When I have a thought that I don’t want to forget, I use voice dictation to brainstorm ideas and set reminders. Whether I have a good idea for an app feature, or I need to remember to take out the trash, voice dictation enables me to do either quickly. The efficiency is great because I’m typically in the middle of doing something else.

3. Calendaring events

Using Siri (the intelligent iOS assistant), I can quickly and easily schedule an event such as a staff meeting. For example, I can activate Siri and say, “Schedule a staff meeting for Tuesday, April 9th at 2 PM.” Then, all I need to do is confirm the event and configure additional options such as an alert.

4. Finding contact information for businesses

If I’m somewhere unfamiliar, I can use Siri to help me find a business. For example, if I’m on a work trip and I want to go out for food, I use Siri to ask, “Where are nearby restaurants?” The results provide nearby restaurant information with hours, a map, and reviews from Yelp to help me find quality food.

5. Texting and emailing

Texting is very easy with voice dictation, especially since abbreviations are acceptable input and punctuation is rarely necessary. Emailing with voice dictation has a slightly higher learning curve, but it’s not impossible. Similar to writing multi-paragraph documents, it’s important to use dictation commands for formatting and punctuation. Additionally, it may seem a little strange at first to dictate emails when others are around, but it soon feels similar to talking on the phone in public.

1Password: Making my online life easier and more secure

blogEntryThumbnailFor a fairly long time, I have heard about the 1Password app, which involves the use of one master password for all your online passwords. I’ve read claims that 1Password will make your online life much easier and more secure. The reason is that the app automatically fills login information with a highly secure password unique to the given site. I hemmed and hawed about purchasing the app for a while, mostly because of the price: $39.99 for a single Mac license. I finally gave in and I'm very happy that I did.

About a week ago, I finally purchased 1Password for the Mac. Once I downloaded the desktop app, I investigated the 1Password extension for browsers because it appeared that the extension would be the best way to use the app for website logins. So, I downloaded the extension for main browsers including Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome. The extension enables a handy auto-save login that pops up after you create or use a website username and password. The auto-save login automatically fills in your information, then you just need to click a button to save it. Plus, the saved information is automatically saved to the desktop app and the extension downloaded across all browsers.

I immediately began using the 1Password extension on website logins for email, bank accounts, social media, product registrations, and more. Although I experienced some difficulty with changing existing passwords on websites, the app easily handled the creation of a new username and password. I typed a username and I used the password generator to generate a very secure password unique to the given site. The password generator provided passwords as a random string of lengthy numbers and letters (e.g., 15 characters long).

In addition to storing login information, 1Password can store your identity comprising personal and business profiles, and wallet information including your Social Security number, passport, and bank accounts. 1Password is highly secure so you don't have to worry about your confidential information being leaked. Your confidential information is encrypted by your master password; just remember to use a strong master password. When you walk away from your computer, you can manually lock your data or set an automatic lock that occurs after a selected period of time (e.g., 1 min. of computer inactivity).

Finally, I purchased the universal iOS app, 1Password Pro, which works very well with the Mac app. Using a local WiFi network, I easily synced my 1Password information from the computer to my iOS devices. So far, the Mac and iOS apps have been great. I can easily say that 1Password is making my online life easier and more secure.