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Dragon Dictation

May 27th, 2010
Speak to your iPad and have it do the typing for you.

If you want your iPad or iPhone to do your typing for you, the free Dragon Dictation app does just that. You simply launch the app, start to speak, and it saves your voice to a buffer. After about 20 seconds, it processes the speech into text. What could be more convenient than speaking and have your words appear in your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch? Dragon Dictation by Nuance accomplishes just this task.

It is very simple to start dictating. When the app opens, your screen appears with a giant Record button and the instructions to tap to record.

Simple One Button To Start

A little shelf at the bottom of the screen to includes buttons to show and hide the keyboard. An export button lets you send processed documents out of the iPhone or iPod. You simply tap Record and Dragon Dictation starts recording. While recording, it shows you a meter that changes with the volume of your voice.

Recording Meter

You press the large red Done button when youíre finished speaking. To process your speech Dragon Dictation uses an Internet connection. The processing is done in the cloud so you must have 3G or WiFi turned on in order for it to transcribe your speech. The nice thing is that itís fairly accurate. Your text may not be perfect, but the softwarwe is good for taking notes and you can correct mistakes later.

I dictated this whole review in Dragon Dictation. I did have to do a fair amount of correction, but that is not a setback. I captured my thoughts much faster than if I had typed them out on the keyboard.

Recorded Text Display

There are a few limitations to dictating. Your speech is saved into a buffer. If you fill the buffer by speaking too long, it stops the recording and start processing and transcribing what youíve said. This means you have to be careful to stop speaking at intervals, and let the application catch up.

You can edit the text it returns with the on-screen keyboard. When you're done editing, you should export the text via SMS, email, or copy it to the clipboard. If you record on the iPhone, you must export it immediately because Dragon dictation has no facility for storing documents you record. This is because it's a dictation application, and not an audio recording application like Appleís Voice Memos. The iPad has no problem storing notes in the left column of the app that appears when you hold the iPad in landscape orientation.

Notes Close Up

If you use an iPhone to dictate, thereís an added warning I have to give you: An incoming phone call quits whatever application you have open, and if you're in the middle of dictation when a call comes in, you lose everything you've said. On the iPad this is not a problem. The iPhone and iPad applications look and work exactly the same, and the iPad application is a true iPad app. It isnít a zoomed in iPhone app, but it remains every bit as simple and every bit as accurate as the iPhone version.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor
Decent dictation if you speak clearly. Plenty of options for exporting processed text. Works with some external mics. Cons
No means of saving transcriptions. No buffer fill warning.