Dictation is a fantastic, Siri-like service on iPhone and iPad that, at the tap of a mic button, transforms what you say out loud into text on the screen. But sometimes that mic button ghosts over, grays out, and otherwise becomes un-tabble. That kills the natural-language interface, makes apps less accessible, and can otherwise stop your productivity dead.
It rarely happens with built-in apps like Messages (though it does sometimes), but it's happening quite often with third party apps, especially Twitter clients. It, of course, should never, not ever happen. iOS should do everything it needs to to keep that button live. But it seems, based on my own tests and talking to a few developers, that when memory gets low, iOS turns off Dictation. Sigh.
However, since memory does seem to be the issue, there's an easy if annoying fix:
Kill all apps in the fast app switcher to free up memory.
It's a waste of time but it has its uses and this is one of them. As soon as whatever's sitting in the background -- doing what it shouldn't be doing, eating up all the memory it should't be eating -- is defenestrated from the system, the Dictation button will de-gray and come roaring back to life.
Hopefully Apple fixes this in iOS 7, and the Dictation button just works and keeps on working. Meanwhile, anyone found a better way to fix this?