Live speech to text

I’m English but living in Spain (Canaries) and because I’m hard of hearing, conversations in Spanish can be difficult now that we all have to wear masks. The iPhone’s speech-to-text capability could be very useful - for example, used with Pages or a simpler text editor to display spoken words as text - but I’ve found it keeps reverting to the keyboard.
Can anyone please recommend an app to do what I need more effectively - ie, display spoken words as text reliably, without needing constant taps of the microphone icon? (I don’t need translation).

Ava is a service meant to solve this problem, providing live captions for deaf & hard-of-hearing people. Ava can transcribe Spanish and is available in Spain. However, even the paid version for individuals has a session time limit of 40 minutes (I don’t know if you can just immediately start a new session when the limit is reached).

Curtis, many thanks for your reply. Ava looks like it would do the job, but it seems more aimed at business users - the free version allows just 10 minutes a session and the paid version, as you say, just 40 minute sessions, for $10-15 monthly. And they recommend holding the phone no more than 12 inches from the person speaking…! I envision my iPhone sitting unobtrusively on the table with a normal conversation going on.
The frustration is that I can do this quite successfully using the iOS built-in speech to text capability, but it regularly reverts to keyboard input so I have to keep jabbing the microphone icon. There are several speech-to-text apps on the App Store and I wondered if anyone has experience of them?

In case this is of interest to others, I’m posting here the results of a few hours scrolling through the App Store and a few more hours testing.

There are many speech-to-text apps for iOS but the majority are aimed simply at dictation as an alternative to keyboard entry for note-taking, chats or whatever. I found three strong contenders for what I want, which is to display text on my iPhone during live conversations to help my understanding as I’m hard of hearing. It’s a very common problem.

I’ve listed my three candidates below. All of them allow setting for different languages. I’ve give the euro prices (rounded off a little) but dollars or pounds would be similar figures.

*** Dictate (Dictar in Spanish) ( ***

Live speech-to-text online or offline, with a wide choice of languages and you can switch rapidly between two of them. Sessions are unlimited in length, stopping only when you press the button. The display screen is reduced a little by controls above and below, but big enough. Subscription plans are 5 euros monthly or 14 euros annual. A free version allows unlimited use but displays ads at the end of each session.

*** Live Transcribe ( ***

Similar features to Dictate but full-screen display and a few extras. Offline transcription is supposedly unavailable for Spanish but for me it works fine (I downloaded the app from the Spanish App Store). Free 7-day trial then subscription 5.50 euros monthly or 55 euros annual.

*** AVA ( ***

This offers all the above features and much more, especially for group conversations. It seems aimed more at professional markets, for example in business or education, and subscription plans are priced to match. There is a free version but it’s limited to 10 minute sessions and a 5 hour monthly maximum.

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Have you tried the new Translate app in iOS 14? It seems to do what want and can even be set to the same language so it’s “translating” between Spanish and Spanish, if that’s helpful.

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No, I hadn’t taken note of the Translate app. So that sounds like my cue to update from 13.6! Thanks, I’ll give it a try in the near future and report back.

I’ve now tried the new Translate app. It’s certainly useful but is aimed at translating short phrases one at a time. Press the mic button, speak, and the input speech gets displayed as text then, when you pause, the mic cuts out and the phrase is translated into the target language.
It works for Spanish to Spanish but there’s no way to leave the mic permanently live. The other problem is that the output (translated) text is then spoken aloud, and I can’t find any way to prevent that. Spanish shop assistants would probably giggle at hearing what they’ve just said being repeated by the iPhone :slight_smile:

Just turning down the volume doesn’t work?

OK, what about Voice Control’s dictation? Just open Pages or some text editor and enable it.

Seems like it should work, but in Spain it doesn’t. With the ordinary dictation facility, the mic cuts out after about half a minute. Using Voice Control dictation the only languages available are three different flavours of English - no Spanish option available for download, nor any other language in fact. Sigh… It’s okay, I’ll invest in one of the three apps I reviewed in an earlier post. Thanks for your interest though!

Right, the standard dictation isn’t continuous. I hadn’t known that Voice Control was limited to English, but I guess I’m not surprised. Sorry!

One more comment, just for interest: the three varieties of English for Voice Control are the expected US and UK plus India. Must be an important market for Apple.