With the release of version 3 of the popular speech recognition DragonDictate for Mac developers Nuance have added some nice new features and improvements. I’ve used DragonDictate for some time now to compensate for my atrocious typing skills. I’m actually using it to write this review. I find Dictate extremely useful in the large number of of emails I have to write every day.
First up Nuance claim a 15% improvement in accuracy over version 2. I’m not sure about the 15% but I have noticed a significant improvement. I’m spending less time going to the correction window. I also have a feeling that I can speak more quickly and that the words appear more quickly on the screen. So they’ve certainly tweaked the recognition engine.
It also seems quicker to show correction alternatives and to implement my choice. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the alternatives suggested in the recognition window seem more, shall I say, sensible. Previously some of the alternatives bordered on hilarious.
Nuance also claim that Dictate can be used in more applications. For the best accuracy it has always been recommended to dictate into an RTF or a Word document which opens when the programme launches. When I was working in Pages in the previous version random letters would sometimes appear and I would often lose formatting control. As I write this I’m noticing a marked improvement in this aspect.
Another new feature is support for digital voice recorders. I installed the free Dragon Recorder App on my iPod Touch, plugged in a microphone and began dictating. When I finished I connected my iPod to the Mac via iTunes and transferred my recording to the desktop. Here’s where it gets harder on a Mac. On the PC premium versions of Dragon have transcription ability built in. On the Mac you need a separate program, MacSpeech Scribe. Which I have. I simply selected my recording in Scribe and hit Transcription. And there is what I said – 100% accurate. I repeated the process with the same result. Pretty impressive.
I’ve often been asked if it is possible to transcribe interviews. The answer unfortunately is no, not really. Dictate relies on intimate knowledge of the voice of one user at a time. There is however a workaround. Open a Dictate document, have your interview available through headphones and dictate what you hear. Not a perfect solution but much quicker than typing. And if you’re part of the interview you can use Scribe to get your part done.
Dictate 3 allows you to choose your preferred word spelling (eg. colour/color) or phrase form and actually learns your style from the changes you make. And you still have the nice feature from version 2 of vocabulary training. Simply select documents that you have written which you feel reflect your style and ask Dictate to add all new words to its vocabulary. You can also add individual words manually.
Other improvements are support for wideband Bluetooth and a neat little interactive tutorial which you access through the Help menu. Setup is really easy and Dictate had no problem in picking up my voice profile from the previous version. Even before version 3 came out I’d made the decision to use Dictate whenever I needed to write more than a few words. The new version is certainly more intuitive, noticeably faster and more accurate. Highly recommended.
Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 is available for pre-order immediately starting at $199.95. Registered owners of Macspeech Dictate or Dragon Dictate can upgrade for $149.95 through Nuance’s website or through its network of Dragon certified resellers and national software retailers. Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 downloads and packaged products will be available from today.