Review: Dragon Professional for Mac V6

Keith White
28 June, 2017
View more articles fromthe author
AAA

Dragon Professional for Mac V6

Nuance, www.nuance.com

Pros 

Even faster and more accurate than previous versions.Vastly improved ability to mix typing and dictation. Greatly improved transcription features. Improved floating windows

Cons 

Expensive (but well worth a serious cost-benefit analysis for people with poor keyboard skills like me)

Upgrade for $238, Full version $475

Reviews

Over the last few days I’ve been trialling the latest version of Dragon voice recognition software for Mac from Nuance, now with the imposing title of Dragon Professional Individual for Mac v6. I have been using Dragon to avoid typing since version three and have been pleased with each new version as it gets faster, more accurate and builds on my voice profile, which it has developed and updated over the years. This latest iteration certainly seems to have continued with speed and accuracy improvements and has a number of major new features which I’m really looking forward to using in the days ahead. And, I’m lazily writing this using the inbuilt microphone on my iMac rather than taking the trouble to connect a headset. With version five Nuance put in a bit of work with built-in input and it’s even better with version six.

As in version five, Dragon does not run as a standalone application but appears as an icon in the Finder menubar, like Time Machine or Dropbox, with a drop-down window. At start-up there is now a progress bar which is an improvement on the previous version where I had to wait for the icon to appear.

The new floating Guidance Window is a boon, listing appropriate commands I may need, based on what I’m doing at the time and giving one-button access to Help files. I can toggle Help on or off from another floating pane which also shows microphone status (On, Off, Asleep), the Correction Window with a number of variations of the phrase I have just said, and allows me to switch between Dictation, Command, Spelling and Numbers mode.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews I have great difficulty keeping my hands off the keyboard when I’m dictating. I’m now glad to say that Nuance has finally recognised that there are a lot of us out there that do this. They have been working to support as many applications as possible which will allow mixing dictation with typing. For me this includes Keynote, Numbers and particularly Pages, which I’m using to write this. But it also includes Microsoft Word 2011 or 2016, Outlook, Skype and TextEdit. Expect this list to be updated over time.

The transcription feature has been greatly improved and is something I will definitely be making more use of. Without Dragon requiring me to do any training I dictated a little passage into my audio software and saved it out as an AIFF. I then dragged it into the Transcription window in Dragon, told them it was me, and then set it to work. In virtually no time at all I had a text file sitting on my desktop with 100 percent accuracy. This means I can dictate into my iPhone on the road and then bring the file or files (there is a new Batch Mode) back into my Mac and get the transcription happening while I do something else.

An associated feature is a vastly-improved third-party transcription, again without any training required. So, I open the Transcription window, tell them it is not me, tell them who it is (in this case, my wife), confirm that she will have an Australian accent, not Canadian, New Zealand, Indian, Singaporean, UK or USA, and then drag the file she has recorded into the window and off we go. Not quite as accurate as my transcription but I am assuming that this will improve with further examples, using the new Deep Learning technology which underpins this latest version of the software. Incidentally I have noticed that Dragon notifies me that it is updating my profile quite frequently during a dictation session, rather than waiting until the end as in previous versions. Deep Learning technology at work, perhaps.

There are a number of other minor improvements, all of which add up to a really valuable upgrade. Incidentally, due to a meltdown in my main Mac I had to resort to my trusty old 2009 iMac running Dragon 4. This was a salutary experience. Version four ran fine but the comparison when I returned to version six was breathtaking, in terms of speed, accuracy and contextual awareness. This new version of Dragon is well worth upgrading to. If you’re new to the game of voice recognition there couldn’t be a better way to start.

New box pack A$475, digital download A$475, upgrade from Dragon for Mac v4 or v5 A$238. You’ll need El Capitan or Sierra as your OS.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us