Your Macintosh wants to talk to you . . . and it’s even willing to listen to what you have to say. Mac OS computers have been able to speak for a long time—ever since the introduction of PlainTalk and Speech Recognition in the pre-Mac OS 8 days (the early 1990s).
Speech is a very interesting concept, but it’s one that has been sadly under-supported by most Mac OS applications. One of Classic Mac OS’s most interesting features was its support for a feature called " talking dialogs.” You could specify a few basic options, and the alerts that appeared would be spoken automatically. No application support was needed, as the appropriate text string was detected automatically by the alert/dialog API. This feature wasn’t reimplemented for Mac OS X until the release of Jaguar (Mac OS 10.2). In addition to this basic functionality, Mac OS X features a number of other speech capabilities.
First, Mac OS X can perform speech recognition. Broadly speaking, there are two classes of speech recognition: systems that can understand specific words or phrases (such as the engine in Mac OS X) and systems that are capable of full dictation services. Some packages available from third parties provide full dictation for Mac OS X, but they require an independent commercial license and are beyond the scope of this book. This chapter focuses on the ability of an OS X system to recognize words and on how your Java programs can use that functionality.