Enter the Dragon Dictation

First impressions

We have a tendency to blab away and speak nonsense a lot of the time, or at least that’s what our friends say. However, we have always felt that somewhere in the midst of all the garbled speech there are some brilliant moments and we wish we had been recording them so we could go back and find the nuggets of wisdom.

We were therefore very interested to see what the Dragon Dictation app would be like (as we feel we speak clearly) and decided that we would be an excellent candidate to test it out.

We gave Dragon a try by using it to write this particular review, so without further ado let’s see what we thought of it.

How it works

Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software has been popular in the market for years, although back in the day it was quite expensive so now it’s interesting to see that this app is actually free.

The Dragon app install is very simple and it will initially ask you if you wish to include your contacts, which of course is a personal choice. If you do wish to use them it will include them as part of the voice recognition dictionary. This is something you can adjust later on in Settings if you change your mind.

Once you have set it up, all you have to do is start tapping a button and recording. There will also be an icon pointing to where the microphone is on your device in case you don’t have headphones with the built-in mic. Just remember to speak as clearly as possible.

When you first start using Dragon, don’t be surprised to hear yourself sounding like a robot and losing your train of thought. But once you become more comfortable with the software, you can start using other commands such as “comma”, “full stop” and “new line” to add punctuation to your text.

The icon in the top right hand corner with an arrow pointing down takes you to the Settings menu where you can choose to recognise the names of contacts and ask the software to detect end-of-speech.

It allows you to post directly to Facebook, Twitter, and to cut and copy what you have just said so you can paste it elsewhere, or to e-mail it to others.

Of course you can also go into the notes and “select all”, copy and paste into an e-mail or into Pages so the software is extremely versatile.

When you have finished one note and you’re happy with it, to create a new one all you have to do is hit the “+” sign in the top right hand corner and you can start a new dictation.

When we tried

We’ll be the first to admit that we sounded like a complete idiot while we were recording this review. As we listened to ourselves; we realised our tone was absolutely absurd and we wondered if we would ever be able to use this app with other people in the room. We made sure everybody had gone to bed before we gave it a try.

However, if we could get used to speaking closely to the iPad as though we were trying to whisper a secret to a friend, we could see the benefit of this app, particularly with the headphones and microphone which we believe probably offer even clearer voice recognition.

There is absolutely no doubt that this app is well worth it for the no money that we spent on it. We would love to give it a try perhaps in an interview situation, or somewhere where there’s a bit more noise carrying on. But even if we only used it alone in a room imitating a very deliberate BBC presenter, we have to say that it could save us some typing time.

Final thoughts

We simply have to recommend this app, if for no other reason than it costs you nothing to try it out. We would say that it got about 98 per cent of our words correct.

We’re sure that Eliza Doolittle would’ve been a big fan in her day and no doubt by the time she had used this app for a few days, she would’ve been saying “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” like a champion.

Maybe they should have called it “Henry Higgins”…

Pros: Free. Very simple to use. Pretty impressive voice recognition. Multiple languages available.

Cons: Ambient noise will be a problem if you don’t have a better microphone than the built-in one.

Dragon Dictation

Rating: E for Everyone

Seller: Nuance Communications

Cost: Free

Devices: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

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