Typing is very “old school” in a world of Siri and voice recognition. Over three years ago I did a review of Dragon Dictate after Nuance acquired MacSpeech Scribe posted at applejac_macintosh_users. It was then, and continues now, the leader in voice transcription. Recently they released a major upgrade to make it even better.
Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 helps me accomplish more than I ever imagined possible by inputting text just by speaking (up to three times faster than typing), and interacting with my favorite Mac applications using only my voice. This power software provides amazing accuracy and requires just minutes of training to get started – it’s Simply Smarter Speech Recognition. Version 3 is even better with these excellent features:
- Improved Accuracy: Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 delivers a 15% improvement to out-of-the-box accuracy when compared to version 2.x. Its relies on the latest Dragon speech recognition engine (from Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12), and also samples higher quality audio in order to deliver unprecedented accuracy, so that what I say is what I get.
- Faster, More Advanced Correction: When it comes to making a correction, Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 makes it faster and easier than ever before. It includes a richer list of alternative word choices, so when I do make a correction, it’s more likely that the word or phrase I intended will be presented as an option.
- Control in More Applications with Express Editor: Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 gives me control in more applications, so that I can use my voice to get more done. After I finish dictating, I can transfer the text from the Express Editor to the desired application quickly and easily by voice.
- Transcription of Recorded Speech: It’s easy to transcribe my own recorded speech into text with Dragon Dictate for Mac 3. It supports .wav, .m4a, .m4v, .mp4, .aif, and .aiff audio file formats.
- Dragon Recorder: Since I don’t have a digital voice recorder available to me, I use the free Dragon Recorder app to record my thoughts using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch (4th gen). Then I can transcribe the recorded audio files when I get back to my Mac.
- Smart Format Rules: Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 reaches out to me to adapt upon detecting my format corrections (abbreviations, numbers, and more) so my dictated text looks the way I want it to every time.
- Enhanced Bluetooth Support: Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 adds support for wideband Bluetooth wireless headset microphones, and I can get up and running quickly. When it detects that the USB dongle of a certified microphone (like my Plantronics unit) is plugged into the Mac, Dragon Dictate offers “Enhanced Bluetooth” as an audio source type and does not require a script reading to get started.
- Interactive Tutorial: Displayed at the end of profile creation and available at any time from the Help menu, the Interactive Tutorial in Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 offers short progressive simulations to help me practice good dictation, correction and editing habits so that I can create text efficiently within just a few minutes. Even experienced Dragon Dictate users can benefit from the Interactive Tutorial.
- There is so much more that has been added like additional voice training stories, more commands from mission control and support for new applications like Notes and Reminders.
Installation requires at least an Intel-based Mac computer (2.2 Ghz Intel Core2 Duo processor or greater recommended), minimum free hard disk space of 4GB, at least 2GB of RAM recommended, a DVD-ROM drive for installation (also downloadable), a Nuance-approved noise-canceling headset microphone for Mac. It is supported by the operating systems of OS X Lion (10.7), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), and OS X Mavericks (10.9), which is what I’m using. An Internet connection is required for automatic product activation (a quick and anonymous process).
I’ve used the latest version extensively in writing reports and transcribing notes. There is even a free app available which makes the iPhone a wireless microphone (it works very well). Although it extends initial setup time, it is well worth taking an extra 15 minutes to go through the voice training exercise which improves Dragon Dictate’s recognition and accuracy. To use it, I still have to start the program, mount my Bluetooth headset, and select my profile (takes about a minute), but then I’m ready to go.
This review was prepared with the handy assistance of this program. Since my input is often a rambling dialogue, I mingle keyboard editing to ensure accuracy, which works quite well (the speed and accuracy of Dragon Dictate is rather amazing). I have done side-by-side comparisons to the integrated speech recognition of Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks (which is good), but does not measure up to the features and performance of Dragon Dictate.
The retail price is $199.99, but can be purchased for $134.99 direct from Nuance at www.nuance.com, or as little as $121.64 with free shipping from Amazon. Legal and medical specialty versions are also available from the same website. The Dragon Dictate app is available for free at Apple’s App Store. Dragon Dictate is the best of its kind, and a product I continue to rely on for my most important work.