Like talking to your iPhone? The free Dragon Dictation iPhone app from Nuance lets you turn your voice into words. Just press the red record button and start speaking into your iPhone and when you’re done press the done button. Dictation then uploads the recording to its servers and displays the resulting text on the screen. Unfortunately Dragon Dictation suffers from a major privacy issue, although it performs quite well. Read on for more details.
You can keep recording as many times as you want by pressing record and done. Dictation lets you modify the resulting text either by hand using the built in keyboard or using its proprietary method; word by word. To edit words, simply tap any word when the keyboard is closed and the Dictation app turns it blue. You have the option of deleting and sometimes even swapping your word with suggested replacement words.
While recording you have to speak slowly and precisely making sure to enunciate your words in order to get accurate translation into text. Speaking into Dictation can take some practice but within a few minutes you should get the hang of it. While recording if you stop talking for a few seconds, Dictation will stop the recording automatically. If you make an error, tap the cancel button to disregard the current recording. After you have finished recording there is no way to undo what was processed unless you manually delete or edit things. Obviously you should be in a quiet area with little to no background noise such as an office for best results. The Dictation app has a 30 second limit for recordings but you can record as many times as you want. After recording and uploading the translating process takes only 2 to 3 seconds each time. While recording you can use punctuation marks just by saying the words like comma and period. After you’re done you can send your results by mail, by text message or copy them to the iPhone clipboard.
During our tests we found a few errors in the text while dictating, sometimes with humorous results. Another complaint we have is if you close the app, it wipes all the text from its memory which can be a big problem if for example you’ve already dictated say a thousand words and accidentally press the home button. Finally and most importantly, the Dragon Dictation app as stated in its EULA, will upload your all the names in your contact list to its servers to help with the dictation of your contact names. For a full explanation please read the Dragon Mobile apps blog entry which discusses What Dragon Dictation for the iPhone Does (and Doesn’t Do) with Your Contacts. Nevertheless, this is a serious privacy issue and may turn off some users from wanting to use the app. It would be so much easier if Dragon made the uploading of contacts an option rather than a requirement.
Overall Dictation is a powerful app that brings speech to text functionality to the iPhone. If you have used this type of software on your Mac or PC before you will love Dictation, and if you are new to this type of thing you should get the hang of it after a few minutes of practice. Dictation is great for people on the move who don’t have time to play with the keyboard. Since your results are sent to the server each time for processing, you will need to be connected to an Internet connection to use this app. Given that the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software costs around $200, and the iPhone app is free, it is quite a bargain. If you can live with the contact list privacy issue, this app is a no-brainer.
Here is a video demo of the Dragon Dictation app on the iPhone
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