Dragon Speech-to-Text iOS App Makes Dictation a Dream
Nuances Dragon Remote Microphone app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad lets you transform spoken words into text along with a desktop PC or Mac application. Despite CIO.com blogger James A. Martin having both a cold and a Southern drawl, he found the transcription accuracy to be nearly flawless.
Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, sassy thing that she is, doesn’t take dictation. She’ll tell you where to hide a dead body, but if you want to dictate your confession letter to the police, you’re on your own.
That’s where Nuance Software’s Dragon Remote Microphone comes in. It’s a free application for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad that lets you use your iOS device as a wireless microphone for dictating text and commands to your PC or Mac.
Though the iOS app itself is free, it’s useless unless you buy either Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium Edition version 11.5 or higher for Windows PCs or Dragon Dictate for Mac version 2.5 or higher (The software costs $200). I tested the current version Dragon Remote Microphone (1.0) on an iPhone 4 in combination with Dragon Dictate on an iMac.
Dragon’s desktop software has been around for a while, and each new updated release gets better. Usually you’d speak into the computer headset,that comes along with Dragon desktop software PC and Mac. The Dragon software then transcribes what you say into text or performs certain commands. Say “Go to Beginning,” for instance, to make your Word document magically jump to the top.
The Dragon Remote Microphone mobile app gives you another way to dictate into your computer. Instead of using the PC headset, you speak to your iOS device, which must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your computer in order to transcribe your speech. Instantly, and with astonishing accuracy, your words are translated into text. (Dragon Remote Microphone supports the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S; iPad and iPad 2; or iPod touch fourth-generation running iOS 4.2.)
Some set up is required. The desktop software is a fairly hefty install. And you’ll need to spend at least five minutes reading a chunk of tedious text. This helps the software understand your voice.
It’s time well spent, however. Despite my cold and Southern drawl, my iPhone dictations translated to text with only one small mistake. When I used a pair of Bose earbuds with a built-in mic on my iPhone, accuracy declined a bit but was still better than expected.
The $200 investment in the desktop software is worth it if you spend a lot of time dictating with your computer. I battled repetitive strain injury to both hands years ago because of all the hours I spent typing on a computer keyboard, and Dragon’s dictation software played no small role in my full recovery.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.