Dragon Dictation is one of the most-used apps on both my iPhone and my iPad. I have desktop versions of both MacSpeech Dictate and MacSpeech Scribe but, the fact of the matter is, having something that I can launch on my iPhone in just seconds is so very convenient in my day-to-day use of my devices that, unless I am settled in in front of my iMac, I tend to use Dictate more and more.
The application allows me to write a good bit of text quickly and on the go. Perhaps best of all, somehow Nuance has managed to make the application remarkably accurate in its transcription without me having to train the recognition to my voice as is necessary with the desktop versions. Now Version 2 is out and it brings with it some welcome updates.
Let’s take a brief rundown on the history of Dragon Dictation before looking at what’s new in the updated Version 2 of the program.
The application was in beta some 9 months ago. I had the opportunity to use a pre-released version of it and was excited when it appeared in the iTunes AppStore.
After getting over the “wow” of just how accurate it was so long as I spoke slowly and clearly my biggest question throughout the pre-launch review period was what the company was going to charge for the application and for access to the service. Mind you, this was about the same time that Jott went to a paid model and was charging significantly for access to the service. (Jott has since been purchased by Nuance.) I was amazed to find out that the application was launching for free and the service was going to be free as well. (And it still is!!!) It’s amazing to me that something this powerful is accessible to anybody who owns an iPhone, iPod or iPod touch… for FREE.
Apparently others were just as excited as I was about to release since the video of the first version of the application drew a fair bit of attention. Here’s that video.
A short time later there was an update to the application that allowed users to have messages transcribed simply by stopping their speech. There was no more tapping “Done” require to initiate the transcription. It was a huge convenience, especially when adding numerous “voice sessions” one after the other.
Fast forward a few months and with the release of the iPad Nuance released a new universal version of Dragon Dictation that not only worked on both the iPhone and the iPad but it looked beautiful on the larger screen as well. Moreover, for some reason I find that the microphone on the iPad is even more sensitive and more accurate allowing transcriptions to be made quickly and accurately without needing to wear a headset, so long as there is no other sound in the room that is.
The release of the universal version of Dragon that supported the iPad brought another significant change to Dragon Dictation — it doubled the amount of time that you can speak to the application from 30 seconds to 60 seconds. This may not sound like a lot of time but when you actually use the application there’s a tremendous amount you can record in each 6o second snippet. The majority of users don’t get anywhere near the 30 seconds, let alone the 60 seconds, but for “hard-core” users the difference in recording time is tremendous.
The application is amazingly powerful but it isn’t, however, without its downsides. For example, because of the requirements that Apple places up on the way applications work on the iPhone, developers are not able to integrate their applications with core iPhone functionality such as e-mail. This translates to the fact that in order to get text into an e-mail or a text message one had to finish recording, tap an arrow button, select “send to e-mail” or “send to clipboard”, and then format the message that you wanted to have share. It wasn’t the most convenient thing in the world but the service and application works so well, so quickly and so accurately that the trade-off of having to do numerous taps to get the message into an e-mail was worth it — at least for me.
Well now Nuance has released version 2.0 of the application and it brings some great additions to the service that will significantly increase the app’s usability and reliability.
Among the changes that you’ll find in the new version of Dragon Dictation is the fact that once you finish a recording you can initiate an e-mail or SMS, or update your Facebook or Twitter status from within the application itself.
It is as simple as tapping the button in the upper right corner… and going from there. It’s a huge timesaver which keeps you from having to leave Dragon Dictation and launch the other application that you want to use.
In addition, the application now has an auto save feature. This means that if you are in the process of dictating something and you’re interrupted by an incoming phone call the text you have thus far created will be saved and, as soon as the phone call ends, the application will relaunch.
It works… perfectly. I’ve intentionally created this entire post using Dragon Dictation on my iPhone and as luck would have it, in the midst of dictating the post my wife called. In the past I would have lost everything I had done so far… and it was the majority of the post. Thanks to the update. I’ve been using, however, as soon as the call ended I was right back to where I was in the midst of the post. The timing was perfect… you can’t make stuff like that up. It’s a superb update to the application for anyone who uses it for serious work and, as a result, has the app open for an extended period of time.
In addition, the new version of Dragon Dictation includes support for multiple language and language variants. This was a feature that was planned for sometime in the future but Nuance was already able to incorporate in version 2.0. At launch it will work with UK English and German with more languages and dialects planned for the future.
Once again, the application isn’t perfect.
These updates increase the usability of Dragon Dictation for serious work tremendously but because of Apple’s limitations you’re still not able to actually respond to an e-mail with in the application itself as you can with Dragon dictation for Blackberry. This isn’t a Nuance issue but an Apple one. Hopefully, at some point Apple will allow it, build Nuance’s technology into the core of the iPhone or Nuance will find a way to build a fully supported email client right into the app.
In the meantime, however, Nuance has done a good job with Dragon Dictation 2.0. And, oh, did I mention… it is free?!