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Review: Dragon Dictate

Speech recognition evolves as Nuance combines MacSpeech with its own software.

Speech recognition is still one of the Holy Grail standards of computing.
The idea of being able to ditch the keyboard and simply speak to our machines is something that has inspired software makers for years. In 2010 the perfect solution is inching its way ever nearer to us and Nuance has taken a huge leap with its new product, Dragon Dictate for Mac. Nuance has made a number of speech-based products for the PC and its recent acquisition of the famous Mac stalwart, MacSpeech Dictate, has seen it enter the Mac market with a flourish.

The software looks almost identical to the old MacSpeech application so upgrading users won’t have to worry about learning a new interface. Dragon Dictate feels more stable than MacSpeech ever did and this in turn breeds confidence, so when you begin teaching the software your voice and feeling your way around the new features it’s with an air of enthusiasm rather than with negative expectancies of crashes and hangs.

The next big plus is that the recognition software is greatly improved over MacSpeech. Nuance’s effort here has really paid off. Not only does the system work much faster than in the past, but from our own point of view we didn’t need to put on a slight American accent to get the system to work at its best. Of course, we still had to annunciate properly and speak slightly slower than in real life but that’s just good practice for any speech-recognition software. Getting the software to edit mistakes can be frustrating at times but it’s getting better. The added bonus of being able to complete a few extra tasks like searching Google using voice alone is very cool and helps balance out any of the negative aspects of the software.
We’re still not in that place where controlling a Mac using speech alone is as simple as we’d like but if you are keen on doing big chunks of writing with your voice then this is a very worthy piece of software. We would encourage you to be patient with the software as it will eventually pay huge dividends. A nice improvement upon what was already pretty good software. The new features and stability make it a must for would-be dictators.