Android 4.1 Jelly Bean adds Offline Voice Typing

Google has added offline voice typing to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, making the voice dictation system work even when your phone lacks a data connection. The company's engineers had to shrink down the voice recognition engine significantly to make the system fit locally onto a phone, Google explained at IO today, meaning users will now no longer have to make sure they have a speedy data connection in order to take advantage of it.

In the on-stage demonstration, Google showed how a Galaxy Nexus running the new offline voice typing system in Jelly Bean could track a full sentence, transcribing it in seconds. In contrast, Apple's voice recognition system in iOS – currently available on the iPhone 4S and new iPad – demands a web connection for the company's servers to do the heavy crunching.

Offline voice typing will initially only be supported for US English, with Google planning to add further languages later on. Meanwhile there's new Hebrew, Persian, Hindi and Thai language text support introduced in Jelly Bean.