This weeks release of Apple’s shiny new operating system OS X Mavericks 10.9 builds on the voice-to-text features that appeared in Mountain Lion (10.8) by adding what is called “Enhanced Dictation“.

OS X Mavericks Enhanced Dictation

The key difference between Enhanced Dictation in 10.9 and what was available in 10.8 is that the audio you speak can now be processed on your Mac rather than sending your soundbite off to the Apple cloud for generic speech-to-text processing, known as server based dictation. The benefits of this make quite a profound difference, why?

  1. The voice to text is processed much faster as it is done locally
  2. Choice of mic inputs, if you are serious about using this invest in a noise cancelling USB mic for much more accurate voice-to-text rather than using the internal mic which is prone to background noise interference
  3. You specify your speech profile, e.g. English (Australian) which forces a download of a dictionary of relevant words for that language (approx. 381 Mb)

All of this adds more pressure on Dragon Dictate 3 for Mac from Nuance although at this stage Dragon is still leaps and bounds ahead in terms of features and also accuracy. But having said that, if you want to write quick tweets, short emails, IM chat then Enhanced Dictation is the way to go. If you need to dump out reams of text perhaps to write blogs, essays or stories then Dragon is still the way to go.

Enhanced Dictation Mavericks Language Download

Enhanced Dictation requires a one off download of your chosen language

Apple continue to tease and push, albeit gently, for users to embrace voice recognition. User education started gently with Siri, firmed up with voice-to-text in Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) and now that extra push in Mavericks. We are being guided, maybe subconsciously, to use voice to text more and more and rightly so. With so much processing power at our fingertips and to be honest old fashioned typing the future really is voice.

Somebody asked me recently what “learn to type” software would I recommend for a five year old. My reply, don’t bother, by the time he/she would need to do some serious text input we will be much more used to using voice to text than we are now. Check back here in seven years and lets see how that prediction holds !

More details can be found on the Apple – Mac Basics : Dictation lets you speak text instead of typing page which also lists spoken dictation commands, the things you can say, like punctuation, emoticons, typography, etc which I have copied below for reference:

 

Punctuation Result
apostrophe
open bracket [
close bracket ]
open parenthesis (
close parenthesis )
open brace {
close brace }
open angle bracket <
close angle bracket >
colon :
comma ,
dash
ellipsis
exclamation mark !
hyphen
period / point / dot / full stop .
question mark ?
quote
end quote
begin single quote
end single quote
semicolon ;

 

Typography Result
ampersand &
asterisk *
at sign @
backslash \
forward slash /
caret ^
center dot ·
large center dot
degree sign °
hashtag / pound sign #
percent sign %
underscore _
vertical bar |

 

Capitalization Result
caps on formats next phrase in Title Case
caps off resumes default letter case
all caps formats next word in ALL CAPS
all caps on proceeds in ALL CAPS
all caps off resumes default letter case

 

Currency Result
dollar sign $
cent sign ¢
pound sterling sign £
euro sign
yen sign ¥
Emoticons Result
cross-eyed laughing face XD
frowny face 🙁
smiley face 🙂
winky face 😉

 

Intellectual Property Result
copyright sign ©
registered sign ®
trademark sign

 

Mathematical Result
equals sign =
greater than sign >
less than sign <
minus sign
multiplication sign x
plus sign +

 

Word and Line Result
new line adds line break
numeral formats next phrase as number
roman numeral formats next phrase as Roman numeral
new paragraph adds paragraph break
no space on formats next phrase without spaces
no space off resumes default spacing
tab key advances cursor to the next tab stop
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