Windows 10 Build 16215 brings soft and hardware keyboard and voice dictation improvements

Windows 10 Build 16215 has brought a very large number of improvements to text input on Windows. The improvements cover both software keyboards, hardware keyboards and even voice dictation.

Leaked earlier, the new build brings a new touch keyboard on Desktop.

The new keyboard brings:

Enhanced Text Prediction: Microsoft made a number of improvements to the text prediction engine to make it more intelligent. For example, you now don’t need to type anything other than “Text ” to complete the frequently used message, “Text me when you get a chance” using the suggested words. If you’re using a UWP app, you can also now enjoy Emoji suggestions.  Prediction is currently only working with the English US keyboard, but Microsft is working on enabling more languages.

Improved emoji experience: If you switch to the touch keyboard’s emoji view, you’ll find can now smoothly scroll through the entire contents of each emoji category, rather than page by page. You’ll also notice that any additional available emoji candidates based on your most recent word are displayed at the top in the candidate area

One-handed touch keyboard: Following extensive research on tablet postures, Microsoft adding a new keyboard layout to provide the most comfort when holding the device in your hands! It looks similar to a phone keyboard – smaller and more narrow. You can freely put this smaller touch keyboard wherever you want (although Microsoft recommends docked to the side of your screen ) and use it with one hand. To switch between languages, press and hold on the &123 key. This keyboard takes the place of the split keyboard layout

Shape writing with the one-handed touch keyboard: One of the most powerful phone keyboard features for fast and easy text input involves swiping over the keys without releasing your finger on the screen, which Microsoft calls shape writing.   This has now come to the PC and also works with the pen. Shape writing is currently only supported for the English US keyboard, however Microsoft is working on enabling more languages.

A new touch keyboard settings menu: Along with all our other improvements, Microsoft updated the way to switch into Handwriting panel and other keyboard layouts. You can find the keyboard settings menu icon at the top left corner of the touch keyboard. It’s a one-stop settings panel for all the layouts (Default, One-handed, Handwriting, Full) and modes (Docked, Floating), as well as a shortcut for jumping to language settings.

Regular Windows users with hard keyboards will also see benefits.  Microsoft has made it a lot easier to enter emojis, introducing a new Emoji Panel to Windows 10.

To access the Emoji Panel users need to press Win + period (.) or Win + semicolon (;) while focus is in a text box and the Emoji Panel will pop up for you to quickly scroll through and pick the emoji you want.

In the “People” emoji category, you can change the skin tone of the emoji by clicking the button on the top-right. In addition to using your mouse to select an emoji, you can also navigate through the panel by using the following keys:

  • Arrow keys – Navigate among emoji
  • Tab / Shift + Tab – Switch emoji category
  • Enter – Select an emoji
  • Esc – Close the panel

The emoji experience is currently only available when the English (United States) is the active language of your keyboard.

Lastly, if you eschew both screen and keyboard in favour of  voice Microsoft has also introduced voice dictation to the Windows desktop keyboard.

The feature supports English (United States) and Chinese (Simplified)  and can be activated by simply tapping the microphone button in the top left corner of the touch keyboard or handwriting panel, or press the new dictation hotkey Win + H to start dictating.

Besides dictating text, you can also use voice commands to do basic editing or to input punctuations. Below are some examples of English dictation voice commands:

  • Say “press backspace” to inject a backspace character
  • Say “clear selection” to unselect the text that has been selected
  • Say “press delete” to inject a delete keystroke
  • Say “delete that” to delete the most recent speech recognition results, or the currently selected text
  • Say “delete last three words” to delete the last three words
  • Say “stop dictating” to terminate the dictation session
  • Say “end spelling” to terminate spelling mode
  • Say “go after <word or phrase>” to move the cursor to the first character after the specified word or phrase
  • Say “go to the end of paragraph” to move the cursor to the end of the paragraph
  • Say “move back to the previous word” to move the cursor to the left side of the previous word
  • Say “go to start of <word or phrase>” to move the cursor to the first character before the specified word or phrase
  • Say “go to the start of paragraph” to move the insertion point to the start of paragraph
  • Say “go down to next sentence” to move the cursor forward to next sentence
  • Say “go to the end of the sentence” to move the insertion point to the end of the sentence
  • Say “move to the start of the word” to move the insertion point to the start of the word
  • Say “go to the left” to inject a left arrow into input
  • Say “move right” to inject a right arrow into input
  • Say “select <word or phrase>” to select the specific word or phrase
  • Say “select that” to select the most recent speech recognition result
  • Say “select next three words” to select the next three words
  • Say “start spelling” to switch to spelling mode
  • Say “comma” (or “period”, “question mark” etc.) to input the punctuation “,” (or “.”, “?”, etc.)

Read more about the new build’s other features here.

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