Building on Nuance’s classic Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows, developers have just released their fourth version of Dragon Dictate. In fact, much of this article was dictated in MarsEdit using Dragon Dictate and a simple USB 3-in-1 TableMike.
We’ve fully tested Dragon Dictate in the past, so today we’ll be looking at what’s new and exciting in this latest version.
Overview of Upgrades
Dragon Dictate has the potential to be very useful for users with a physical handicap that prevents them from typing, as well as users like myself who want occasion an alternative typing.
Dragon Dictate 4.0 requires OS X 10.8.3 or higher, 4GB of RAM and a chunky 3GB of free disk space. The faster your Mac, the better Dictate will perform. It works well with the internal microphone found on MacBooks, but a USB 3-in-1 TableMike allows for dictating with ambient music playing in the background.
Nuance promise that this latest version of Dragon Dictate includes higher performance and faster editing, improved memory management capabilities, in addition to better accuracy over all. The software also adds voice control to web pages that support it using the Dragon Dictate web extension. Support for mixed dictation and typing has been added for Apple’s Pages 4.3 (but not Pages 5.1!) and transcription capabilities were added to allow for the transcribing of pre-recorded speech (as well as dictation) by speakers other than the registered user.
I do observe a slightly faster performance with Dragon Dictate in MarsEdit and DD’s built-in text editor, the latter of which allows for both dictation and manual typing, and it provides better capabilities for dictating edits.
Internet Extension Control
After installing the update, users can download the Safari or Firefox Dragon web extension which vastly improves text dictation and control of supported websites. The following video demonstrates voice control integration on a Google+ Community page.
The web integration, based on my experience so far, shows the greatest improvement in speed and editing capabilities, similar to dictating in Dictate’s notepad and Apple’s Pages. It’s probably worth noting that the web extension allows for full control of Gmail’s web interface.
The current and previous version of Dragon Dictate supports Mac OS X’s default applications, including Mail, Contacts, TextEdit, and Calendar. Dictation support has now been extended to Pages 4.3, which means that users can both dictate and manually type in documents without the program getting confused.
This is similar to typing the application’s notepad, or Express Editor, which can be opened in any application by saying, “Open [or Show] Express Editor.” Unfortunately, Dictate doesn’t work as well in Pages 5.1, so until Nuance updates for that version, I recommend using it with another text editor.
Dragon Dictate 4.0 now also includes the capabilities found in another Nuance application, MacSpeech Scribe, which allows for the transcribing of voice audio from another speaker besides yourself. To use the feature you need to import the audio capture file of the recorded speech, lecture, or interview, and go through the voice training process, similar to how you train Dictate for your own voice capture.
I tested out the feature using an Obama speech, as done in Nuance’s brief demo video, and discovered that the transcription cannot detect possible new paragraphs, nor does it add punctuation. As is expected: the better you correct the mistakes that DD makes, the better the transcriptions will be.
The software saves the voice profile for processing further transcriptions by the same speaker. Naturally this tool isn’t as accurate as live dictation, but it may be useful for students and writers who need to transcribe lectures and interviews.
Worth the Upgrade?
The download and installment of version 4.0 went smoothly for me, and it even updated my previous dictation training profiles. After a bug preventing Dictate from working with certain websites is fixed, the web extension feature should make the program even more useful, especially for dictating forum comments and emails if you use Safari or Firefox as your web browser.
I’ve been a user of Dragon Dictate since its initial release and have constantly kept it updated, but despite the improvements there’s no rush to update to the fourth version if your previous version is working well for you, but the improvements to speed, Pages and browser support are welcome additions.
Download: Dragon Dictate (from $199.99)