Dragon Dictation 2.0 Free Productivity-Enhancer On iOS Devices – ‘Book Mystique Review

Dragon Dictation 2.0 is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon NaturallySpeaking that allows you to easily speak and view your text content for everything from email messages to blog posts on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Developer Nuance claims using Dragon Dictation 2.0 is up to five (5) times faster than typing on the idevice’s keyboard.



I have full-fledged Dragon Dictate on my MacBook, and it’s great; I love it. But since I discovered how well Dragon Dictation 2.0 works on my new iPad 2, I’ve been more inclined to just grab the ‘Pad and start composing in moments of spare time. It’s a lot more spontaneous, and you can do it most anywhere you have Internet connectivity.

It’s not remarkable that Google has cited the difficulty of typing on smartphones and tablet virtual keyboards as a major reason for adding Voice Search to their search engine.

I’m typing this paragraph on my iPad right now, and the best I can manage on the virtual keyboard might be at best I/3 as fast as I can go on my laptops or a freestanding keyboard, and I have smallish fingers (I’m not a touch typist either). I can do about 50 WPM on a real keyboard, which is pretty mediocre compared to what touch typists can hit, but it gets the job done for me.

However, with the teensy virtual keyboards on iPhones and iPod touches or the undersized analog keyboards on some other brand smartphones, it gets really cumbersome typing more than a few sentences. The iPad is better by virtue of the larger keyboard rendering, especially in landscape mode, but it’s still far from being as efficient as a real keyboard.



I’m actually blown away by how well the Dragon Dictation app. works. Compared with Dragon Dictate on my MacBook, I’d figured that the little freeware iOS app. could hardly measure up. And of course it doesn’t as far as feature depth goes, but in terms of accuracy it’s quite impressive, especially considering there is no training to recognize your voice, and I’ve never used a wired headset for dictation, which Nuance recommends doing for best performance. Unlike the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad didn’t come bundled with a mic headset. I have been using the built-in microphone, holding it close to my mouth, and speaking directly into it as Nuance recommends as second-best input mode, and that’s worked surprisingly well for me. The built-in microphone is on the top-left of the device frame. You can rotate the iPad, and little icon on the screen will always show you the microphone’s location.

In fact, over past two weeks and couting, I’ve been battling the worst flu I’ve had in a dozen years or more; high temperature at times, coughing and hacking, hoarse and congested. To say the least, my voice has not been up to it’s usual mellifluous quality. Nevertheless, DragonDictation has still done amazingly well recognizing what I say between paroxysms of croupy coughing.

The downside is that as noted you have to be within wireless Internet range in order for the app to work, since the actual voice processing is done in the Cloud on Nuance’s powerful servers, and not in the idevice itself. This is more of an observation than a complaint, since it was completely necessary, given the prodigious processing power required for voice transcription, and the limitations of the idevice hardware. If you live and work where there is saturation Internet access, it’s not a problem. Unfortunately for me, living in the rural outer boonies, with just one wireless router covering just part of a large, ranging house, and no GSM service within 35 miles, it’s easy to stray beyond Internet range.

When one is within range, the processing goes reasonably quickly. Another niggle is that especially if you’re inclined to pause and think a bit in the midst of dictating the app. but often cutting you off in mid-sentence, the app. has a mind of it’s own about when to pause and process automatically, usually after a couple of typical-length paragraphs, or when you pause speaking — even though I have the auto end-of-speech setting turned off in the Settings.



Not a major issue, and you can also initiate processing manually, but you do have to keep an eye on the screen to monitor what’s going on, harder to do when you’re holding the mic close to your mouth. There’s also a potentially frustrating automatic data delete issue that I’ll get to below.

Composing

To compose a message or passage of prose on your idevice, launch the Dragon Dictation application. Tap the red recording button that appears in the middle of the screen to initiate the voice recognition process, and while the application is recording, speak your message.

As you speak, a graphic level meter will monitor and display the audio input levels.

If you finish before the app. automatically switches to processing mode, either tap the “Done” button (if you’re using an iPhone and iPod touch) or just anywhere on the screen (if you’re on an iPad). You can also set auto end-of-speech setting to ON to detect end of speech. You can tap the red recording button again to dictate additional text. Dragon Dictation on iPhone will also auto-save dictated text on the scratchpad, which can be accessed after accepting an incoming call.
To edit transcribed text, tap the word you would like to correct. When you touch the word, a drop-down list of alternative suggestions will appear. To correct a phrase drag your finger to adjacent words until the entire phrase is highlighted. Dragon Dictation supports users entering new text or editing text they’ve dictated by tapping the keyboard icon. Or if you prefer, you can record a new phrase by pressing the red record icon while the original phrase is highlighted. The phrase will be replaced with the new phrase you speak.

For iPad users, Dragon Dictation Notes facilitates viewing and managing text for multiple documents. Dragon Dictation can be used in the landscape or portrait mode on the iPad. When using in the portrait mode, the Notes are minimized in the top left corner, and can be expanded by tapping on it. There is also an “i” info icon on the application that you can tap to access basic information about using Dragon Dictation on the iPad, including a list of commonly used commands and punctuations. Your dictated text is automatically saved in Dragon Dictation Notes where you can review and edit any Note listed by clicking on it.

Exporting

There are several options for exporting dictated text from Notes. First select the Note you want to send and tap the icon on the top right of the screen and select how you want to send your message from the following options:

Email: Launches your email client and inserts your composed text into a new email message. This Note will be deleted from Dragon Dictation Notes. A comment here; I’m not sure if it’s a bug, or some sort of user error (you know whose), but I lost passages of dictated text twice when Dragon Dictation deleted the Note on “Send Email” but for whatever reason the message didn’t get sent. Consequently, I suggest the alternate method of copying the content of the Note you want to email via the clipboard to the iOS Notes app. first as insurance before attempting an email send. Incidentally, I’ve found that sending email from the Notes app. fail-safe so far, and Notes doesn’t “helpfully” delete your data until you tell it to. Data copied to the clipboard will still remain in Dragon Dictation Notes.

Cut: Cuts your Note to the iPad clipboard and deletes it from Dragon Dictation Notes.

Facebook: Launches Facebook and inserts your composed text into the Facebook status bar.

Twitter: Launches Twitter and inserts your composed text into the Twitter status bar.

In summary, notwithstanding my several criticisms cited above, I can say without hesitation that the Dragon Dictation app. is far and away my favorite productivity enhancer tool that I’ve discovered so far for my iPad. The fact that it’s free is icing on the proverbial cake, and I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want this app. on your idevice.

For more information, visit Dragon Dictation on The App Store.

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