Gone are the days when you needed to actually type when constructing lengthy emails, Facebook updates or messages on your iPad. With a hat tip to Siri, the newest iPads and the iPad mini will listen and transcribe your words. It’s easy, fast and surprisingly accurate. Here’s how to use dictation on your iPad and iPad mini.

How to use dictation on iPad

In order to use the dictation feature, you’ll need an iPad 3 or greater which includes the iPad mini. On the software front, you’ll need iOS 5.1 or later. Diction is part of Siri, thus the restriction on which hardware supports it. I should also note that it requires an active Internet connection, which is a requirement for using Siri. With those requirements out of the way, you’ll need to be sure that Siri is turned on. To do so, navigate to Settings > General > Siri and make sure the slider is set to ‘On’.

Enable Siri dictation on iPad

Using Dictation on iPad

Open up an application that supports dictation. Let’s use the Notes app for this example. Tap on the ‘+’ sign to bring up the keyboard. To the left of the space bar is a microphone icon that looks similar to the Siri icon. Tap on it once. The icon will pop up and you’ll hear a single chime.

iPad dictation

You’ll notice that sound levels are represented in purple on the microphone graphic. Speak slow and clearly to being your message. If you are using punctuation, include that in your message. For example, here’s how I would speak this message.

The Dallas Cowboys did not win the Super Bowl in 2013 comma but they will in 2013 period

Dictation also supports several languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese
  • Korean

To enable a language, navigate to Settings > General > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard. Once you add a new keyboard, you’ll need to enable it from within an app. Once the keyboard comes up, tap and hold the ‘globe’ icon. Now select your language of choice and start dictating your message.

Keyboard language iPad

Apps That Support Dictation
Here are the stock apps which support dictation.

  • Mail
  • Notes
  • Notes
  • Messages
  • Maps
  • Calendar

In addition to these apps, you can swipe right from the home screen and use dication to search your iPad.

The dictation feature isn’t tied solely to Apple’s apps. You’ll find it on countless apps including word processing apps like Byword and social networks like Facebook. The next time you update your status, try using dictation.

Like Siri, the usefulness of dictation feature on the iPad is tied heavily to your surrounding area. A crowded coffeehouse might not be the best place for Siri to accurately transcribe your message. Those looking to do a significant amount of typing should consider a dedicated keyboard such as the Logitech Ultra Thin Keyboard. In most cases, using Apple’s dictation feature on the iPad can be a timesaver, especially when you are looking to create long emails or word processing documents.