I have a friend who is new to the iPhone, the other day he asked me if I knew of a good app that would convert speech to text on his iPhone so that he could speak an SMS message instead of typing it. He had been looking on the Australian iTunes store and didn’t find anything that grabbed him, I pulled my iPhone and demonstrated flawlessly the power of Dragon and the Nuance Dictation app.
Of course he was impressed, my speech was instantly transcribed and the resulting text ready to be sent as a text message. As we are all a social bunch the text transcribed is not just restricted to being sent in a text message. You can also email, tweet or Facebook text aswell as copy to a clipboard ready to paste into any other application on your touch device. So what is this magic and how does it work.
Voice recognition is good when the conditions are right. You need a good quality mic, tick there for the i devices, especially with the iPhone headset and mic attached and even better when you USB plug a noise cancelling headset and mic in the case of the iPad using the USB adapter supplied in the Apple camera connection kit. I have a Parrott VXI TalkPro which works very well when plugged into my iPad for the Nuance Dictation app and also for Skype calls.
Next all you need is quiet environment with little or no background noise and you are away. Tap the record button, start your spiel and when done send your audio off into the cloud. The speech to text does not happen on your device, your audio is recorded and sent to Nuance where the server version of Dragon kicks in and transcribes your voice. This is one of the reasons the recording is limited to a maximum of two minutes of audio. All this is done without the need to train, a standard step on the installed stand alone version of Dragon (NaturallySpeaking on Windows and Dragon Dictate on Mac) which allows your computer to get the basics of how you speak.
Unfortunately this awesome app is only available currently from overseas iTunes stores (US, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Italy), lets hope it makes it to Australia in the near future and that they add Australian to the accents supported by the mobile edition. Only five speech profiles are supported which are: US English, UK English, French, German and Italian. If you can’t wait go grab yourself a US iTunes account and pull the app down now, the app is free.