Although from the first computers available on the market, the keyboard (real or virtual) was the main source of input, nowadays the developers have created a large number of voice dictation apps.
Although they are still quite far from perfect software and sometimes a limited thread, in recent years the vocal dictation has made real steps from giants. Knowing this technology and the apps that exploit it properly, you can make reminders, prepare emails and even rather long text portions simply by using the voice.
- 1 The voice dictation apps: which ones to choose?
- 1.1 Apple Dictation and Enhanced Dictation: the best tools for dictation on Apple devices
- 1.2 Dragon by Nuance: a solution for Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows
- 1.3 Dictation.io, simple but functional for occasional users
- 1.4 Gboard: the ideal for the mobile sector
- 1.5 Voice Typing: Google Docs also useful for voice dictation
- 1.6 Speech Recogniser: an alternative for iOS
- 1.7 Speech Recognition: voice dictation app for Windows
- 1.8 ListNote Speech-to-Text Notes: a solution for Android
The voice dictation apps: which ones to choose?
Being able to communicate with your technological device without having to use your hands has considerable advantages. Apart from speed, there is also the undeniable possibility of using hands for other tasks. But what are the most functional voice dictation apps? In this article, we have collected (and described) some of the software in this sector that can perform this task almost impeccably.
Apple Dictation and Enhanced Dictation: the best tools for dictation on Apple devices
Available for macOS and iOS and totally free, Apple Dictation is the ideal solution for Mac or iPhone owners. The integrated dictation function of Apple, powered by Siri (we would not be surprised if the two joined one day), is already provided as part of Apple’s desktop and mobile operating systems. On iOS devices, use it by pressing the microphone icon on the device keyboard. In the desktop environment, on the other hand, it can be accessed through System Preferences – Keyboard – Dictation and then using a keyboard shortcut to activate it.
By default, Apple Dictation requires an Internet connection and has a time limit of approximately 30 seconds for each text extrapolated from your words. To remove this annoying limit, you need to enable Enhanced Dictation (which requires OS X v10.9 or later and iPhone 6s or later). Enhanced Dictation adds a local file to the device so you can make dictations even offline.
Lean to Enhanced Dictation or not? It all depends on what you want to dictate on your device. Whether it’s short emails or simple messages, Apple Dictation is more than enough. If instead, it is something more “full-bodied”, Enhanced Dictation proves much more useful. In any case, both tools turn out to be rather precise in interpreting the user’s voice.
Dragon by Nuance: a solution for Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows
If you want to write rather long texts without having to use your hands, Dragon by Nuance is the app for you. It is a professional tool and, demonstrating this, comes with various specific packages for each sector of work (such as legal or medical). To reinforce this idea there are the prices: it starts from $ 14.99 a month for apps on iOS and Android, to a figure ranging from 150 to 500 for professional packages usable in the desktop environment.
Dragon is able to manage specialized industry vocabulary and offers excellent features, such as the ability to transcribe text from a loaded audio file. Dragon is one of the leading apps in speech recognition and, if your work can greatly benefit from voice dictation, investing in your purchase can be a great idea. As far as performance is concerned, Dragon borders on perfection: inaccuracies are very rare and minimal.
The available languages change according to packages: generally, however, English, French, German, Spanish and of course Italian are available.
Dictation.io, simple but functional for occasional users
Dictation.io is a free website that lets you turn your speech into text without downloading or installing anything. Despite its simple appearance, it is an extremely useful and functional tool in this context. To work it needs an Internet connection (being a real site) as the captured voice is processed almost in real time through Google’s servers in real time.
Dictation.io has a list of favorite words for punctuation and special characters, although they do not always work perfectly. As for punctuation, you may often notice some small but annoying imperfections. At the end of dictation, you can copy and paste your work, export it to a .txt file, tweet it, send it by email or print it directly from the tool. The languages available are 67 and, among them, naturally our dear English also appears.
Dictation.io is ideal for occasional dictation projects because it is free and does not require any kind of download, but from the point of view of accuracy, it is not a software that can be compared to the best voice dictation apps.
Gboard: the ideal for the mobile sector
Gboard, available for both Android and iOS, is a powerful keyboard app that (though many ignore it) includes a dictation tool. To use this function you need to hold down the space bar, and then vocally dictate the desired text. Gboard transcribes everything you say in real time and without time limits, although an Internet connection is required to use the app.
This tool is very fast and, absurdly, this is not an advantage: sometimes a simple breath can be guessed as a stop and then translated with a dot. For this reason and for other minor inaccuracies, Gboard has proved to be one of the least accurate tools in this sector, while remaining the ideal for the mobile sector as it was specifically designed for smartphones. There are 47 languages included in Gboard.
This free app is absolutely useful if you want to send messages or make short texts. Given its inaccuracy, however, it is not particularly suitable to create something more complex or that requires particular precision.
Voice Typing: Google Docs also useful for voice dictation
Google Docs, among the many resources it offers users, can also count on an integrated tool for voice dictation. It’s called Voice Typing and it’s a powerful tool available only when running Docs under Google Chrome. To activate this function simply select Tools and then select Voice dialing (or press the key combination Control – Shift – S ). Doing so will open a small pop up with a microphone icon. By clicking on the icon it will be possible to activate or deactivate the dictation function.
Google Docs voice typing offers numerous voice commands for formatting, editing, and page navigation when writing. For example, you can say create a bulleted list or select word or go to the end of the paragraph to manage the tool. The languages supported are 62.
Despite its free nature, Voice Typing is a very accurate and ideal tool for those who work a lot in Google Docs. In short, it is an instrument that in this sector can be considered a more than valid option.
Speech Recogniser: an alternative for iOS
Apple Dictation and Enhanced Dictation do not satisfy you? In the iOS environment, the alternative is called Speech Recogniser. This software is not just a simple voice dictation app: You can use it not only to dictate but also to translate text in more than 26 languages. The app allows, among other things, to publish directly on Facebook or Twitter the resulting text, or to copy the text transcribed on other apps.
Once Speech Recogniser is installed and opened, you choose a source language on the home screen and tap the start button to activate dictation. When you are finished, a new screen is displayed with the resulting text. At this point, you can then translate, share or even reproduce the recording.
25 languages are supported, while accuracy is average compared to other apps of this type.
Speech Recognition: voice dictation app for Windows
If you’re using a Windows 10 device, you’re probably already familiar with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant. Cortana “duets” with another tool called Speech Recognition of Windows 10, which is used to dictate and adjust the server’s operations.
Using a shortcut key (the Windows logo button and the H key ) or a voice command, you can start dictating via Cortana. Being a very important tool, its accuracy is quite high: Microsoft in fact has much to heart Cortana and therefore it is a decidedly curated app.
Speech Recognition uses two different interfaces on the screen, depending on what you are doing. There is an interface for dictation and a totally different one for managing voice commands. Voice recognition improves the more you use it: you can allow Windows to scan your typed documents to get a better sense of your language choices and adapt to your style of speech/writing. Speech Recognition works without major problems with Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian) and Spanish.
ListNote Speech-to-Text Notes: a solution for Android
ListNote Speech-to-Text Notes is one of the most popular speech recognition apps for the Android environment. It combines the classic functionality of classic notepad with voice dictation, using Google’s voice search feature built into the phone to turn speech into text while recording audio. The app saves each recording as a searchable and customizable note. You can share these notes via e-mail as well as play the recorded audio while reading the transcribed text to check for errors.
ListNote also offers a handful of unique features, like the Time to Breathe voice that allows you to choose the amount of time to wait before interrupting the voice input (useful to catch your breath). It also offers password protection, as well as other backup and encryption options. Almost 50 languages are covered.
ListNote is a fast speech synthesis application that does not have a time limit for recordings. It’s a good option if you need a free app that you can use quickly and easily and if you do not mind making some corrections at the end. This is necessary because, although generally accurate, in the long texts different errors or inaccuracies can occur.
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