Important, useful info and a real review for the Dragon Dictate speech recognition software. Dragon Dictate was known to PC users for a long time one of the best voice recognition software choices out there. And now Dragon Dictate 2.0 for Mac means that Mac users can get the best of what was formerly known as "Macspeech Dictate" after Nuance (the company behind Dragon Dictation and Dragon NaturallySpeaking software) bought MacSpeech.
Impressive voice to text recognition
Of course, the key feature of any speech to text recognition software is the ability to recognize your voice and convert your speech to text accurately. If it can't recognise your voice, then don't even begin to look at any other features. Dragon Dictate 2.0 does this incredibly well. It's almost scary how many seemingly random words, garbled and speaking at different volume and pace it seems to recognise. The software claims to have 99% accuracy. That's not surprising since it's the same underlying software that powers the incredible, multi-award winning and gold standard Dragon Naturally Speaking 11 for PC users. I tried it with random character names from Star Wars, other movie characters and sports personalities. No problem at all. Really impressive. Dragon dictation comes with a huge 151,448 word dictionary, and just as importantly, it has a whole slew of Proper Names such as fictional characters, brand names, familiar software and internet companies, celebrities and so on. And, unlike typing, Dragon dictation does not misspell any words!
You can also customize the vocabularly, in a method very similar to Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 or 11. So, if there are certain words such as special names, phrases, people, definitions and terminology you use all the time - you can add it to the Dragon software and vocabulary list. You can also choose if those words should be always capitalized and other functions as well. For writing emails, this is fantastic, as it will remember the names of all the people in your address book.
The speech recognition software also learns how you speak as you are using the software.
Dragon Text Speak for Computer Controls, not Just for Dictation
Dragon Dictate can be used to control your computer too - for example you can select menu commands such as cut, paste, save, open, new. And you can also use the 'right click' or 'control mac' functions too and even shortcuts. All you need to say is "mouse double click", 'move mouse left' 'hold mouse' or command option", 'caps lock' 'drag' even 'faster' etc. Seriously, how useful is that.
Dragon dictation works with all the well known Apple applications and software such as Mail, iCal, TextEdit, iChat, Safari, Pages and many others. It's very easy to jump from one application to another
You can also edit and add punctuation easily by saying something like "bold text".
Again, there are easy customization options for regular computer functions you might perform - you can set up workflows using AppleScript or Automator so that they are triggered by your voice instead of having to type.
There are new Proofreading commands for Dragon Dictate 2.0 so that text can be read back to you for checking.
Good looking speech recognition software
Dragon 2.0 also looks good too - it has a gray-based interface, soft gray similar to i-Tunes. I like the way you can lay out your computer screen too in a number of grids . You simply say "MouseGrid" and the screen is overlaid with a lightly shaded gray grid. Each grid is numbered so that you can easily command your mouse to go to a certain area of the computer screen.
Periferals and other bonus features
Dragon Dictate for mac includes a pretty decent USB headset (you can also upgrade to a wireless bluetooth headset with microphone).
They have a useful online help service too for any troubleshooting, problems or questions that you might have.
The Dragon speech recognition package works for:
- Suffers of tendinitis, RSI (repetitive strain injury), Familia Tremors and other hand and arm related problems that affect typing skills
- People recovering from arm surgery
- People with multiple sclerosis and similar disorders
- People with eye strain and sight problems
- People with back problems who can't sit in front of a computer screen or at a keyboard all the time
- Chefs and cooks who like to write up recipes while their hands are busy
- Coders and transcribers such as medical transcriptionists and home medical and insurance billing and coding transcribers
- Writers, bloggers and journalists
- Doctors (i.e. people with the worst hand writing!)
- Lawyers: so many legal firms relied on freelance human transcription services before and now they have switched to voice to text software, saving time, money and the potential for inaccuracies
- People with simply too many old files and documents to transcribe. For example, I know of a guy who is transcribing all his old diaries and notebooks using Dragon Dictate.
- Busy, busy people! They say that speaking is three times faster than typing..and remember, no typos either!
It's not perfect...yet
The biggest flaw with the Dragon dictate software, even though it is head and shoulders above other options for mac, is that things go all funny when you try to mix using your voice with manual keyboard commands. If you are dictating away by voice and suddenly, maybe out of habit, or because you think it's easier, you turn to your keyboard to make changes, the dictation software does get unstuck. And if you are using some third party applications, it might not work as well, or at all. That's because there are simply too many third party applications for Nuance to check and make adjustments if necessary.
And you still have to be careful not to let kids, dogs and the TV interrupt your dictation!
Right Up There With The Best Voice Recognition Software Choices
But overall, Dragon Dictate, from those wonderful voice to text gurus at Nuance, are close to producing the best speech to text recognition software