Apple’s iOS 17: A Closer Look at the Exciting Features and Performance of the Transcription Feature for Audio Messages




Apple’s iOS 17 Brings Exciting Features to Your iPhone

Apple’s iOS 17 Brings Exciting Features to Your iPhone

Apple’s latest software update, iOS 17, released on September 18, has brought a slew of exciting and practical features to your iPhone. Among these new additions are Live Stickers, offline maps, and a standout feature – transcriptions of audio messages, also known as voice notes, in the Messages app. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this feature and its performance.

The Evolution of Audio Messages

Apple introduced audio messages back in 2014 with the release of iOS 8. These are short audio recordings that you can send to your contacts via the Messages app, offering a convenient alternative to typing out messages. Over the years, audio messages have gained popularity as an expressive and efficient means of communication. According to a recent YouGov survey conducted by Vox, 62% of Americans have sent an audio message, with approximately 30% using them weekly. Among young adults aged 18 to 29, about 43% use audio messages at least weekly.

While audio messages offer convenience, they come with their own set of limitations. To listen to them, recipients often need a quiet environment or headphones to avoid disturbing others nearby. However, iOS 17 aims to address this challenge with its new transcription feature.

Transcription Feature Unveiled

With the release of iOS 17, the transcription feature is automatically enabled once you’ve updated your device. When you send an audio message, a corresponding transcript appears beneath the audio bars in the Messages app. This transcript can be particularly useful for those moments when listening to an audio message isn’t convenient or when you want to quickly scan the message’s content.

Performance Assessment

To assess the accuracy and reliability of the transcription feature, I conducted a series of tests. These tests included conversations with background music, reading excerpts from challenging texts, and using different languages.

Mixed Results

In some instances, the transcription feature performed admirably, accurately transcribing messages. For instance, a simple inquiry about dinner plans was transcribed flawlessly. However, there were occasions when the results were far from perfect. In a more complex message, the intended phrase “I’m good, but I appreciate it though” was transcribed as “I’m goodbye I appreciate it though.” While context might help decipher the meaning, it’s clear that improvements are needed.

Handling Uncommon Words and Names

To challenge the transcription feature further, I read excerpts from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring.” While it handled most text well, occasional hiccups occurred, especially with proper nouns. This is understandable, as fantasy literature often contains names that are challenging to transcribe. After all, who among us knew how to pronounce “Daenerys Targaryen” on the first try?

In one instance, the feature introduced the name “Shelby” into the transcript where it didn’t belong, resulting in gibberish. Slowing down and enunciating improved the accuracy, but some issues persisted.

Background Noise Tolerance

One positive aspect of the transcription feature is its ability to handle background noise. Even with music playing in the background, messages were transcribed accurately, omitting lyrics and focusing on the spoken words. While it’s uncertain how well the feature would perform in extremely noisy environments, it appears suitable for everyday use.

Multilingual Limitations

It’s worth noting that the transcription feature worked best when the iPhone’s language was set to English. Attempts to use Spanish or German in messages yielded inconsistent results. Expanding language support should be a priority for Apple to enhance the feature’s utility for a broader user base.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Apple’s iOS 17 introduces an intriguing transcription feature for audio messages. While it shows promise and can be useful in many situations, there is room for improvement. Users should be prepared for occasional errors, especially with proper nouns and when speaking quickly or in languages other than English. Speaking slowly and clearly may help enhance transcription accuracy. Apple’s ongoing development and expansion of language support will be key to making this feature more reliable and accessible for all iPhone users.


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