In September Nuance Communication unveiled Dragon Dictate for Mac 3.0, the newest addition to the Dragon family of speech recognition products that includes Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the PC and Dragon Mobile Apps. It's a good tweak of Dragon Dictate 2.0 -- which itself was an improvement over its solid predecessor, MacSpeech Dictate.
Dragon Dictate makes it easier than ever to create documents and emails, search the web, navigate the Mac desktop, and interact with popular Mac applications. Version 3.0 sports a 15% increase in accuracy, according to the folks at Nuance. I can't quantify that, but it is more accurate. What's more, Dragon Dictate 3.0 further adapts to the way you speak with Smart Format Rules, which customize and personalize every user's Dragon Dictate experience.
Dragon Dictate 3.0 "learns" your voice better than any previous version of Dictate and responds faster to spoken commands.
Don't get me wrong. I work better using a keyboard and mouse, but with Dragon Dictate, you can speak naturally. With a not-inconsiderable-bit-of-training, your Mac gets very good at understanding your voice -- even one laced with a heavy Southern accent like mine.
After installing the application, Dragon Dictate walks you through a tutorial. It took me about 30 minutes to get everything up and going. That's pretty darn quick to prepare myself to use my voice to write articles, emails, and more, as well as boss my Mac around. Once you’ve done the basic setup and adjusted the microphone, you just load your favorite word processor and you're off and running. Er, talking.
Dragon Dictate 3.0 now detects formatting changes such as abbreviations, numbers and more, so dictated text appears the way you prefer. With its revamped correction process, Dragon Dictate now allows you to use speech to correct individual words or phrases through a single window that lets you select alternate word choices, or spell and train new words.
Additionally, Dragon Dictate includes a richer list of alternative word choices, so when making a correction, it's more likely that the word or phrase intended will be presented as an option. When a correction is made, Dragon remembers and learns your preferences, making it more accurate each time. And with the Vocabulary Editor, you have the ability to set alternative written forms of words or phrases (e.g. grey vs. gray).
Dragon Dictate comes with commands that speed up editing my voice. These commands include: "Select text," "Delete text," "Train text," "Correct text," "Insert Before/After text," "Capitalize text," "Lowercase text" and "Uppercase text."
Proofreading commands in Dragon Dictate take advantage of the Text-to-Speech capabilities built into Mac OS X. Use these commands to have dictated text read back to you: "Read/Proofreadtext," "Read/Proofread The Selection" and "Read/Proofread Document."
Dragon Dictate commands also allow you to put punctuation around certain words or words, using a single command. For example, "Put Quotes Around text." By the way, based on my experience, you should simply dictate your entire text, then go back and edit it rather than editing it as you dictate.
Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 gives you control in more applications, so that you can use your voice to get more done. First, Dragon Dictate delivers an Express Editor so that you can dictate into a text field for which it doesn't have Full Text Control. After you finish dictating, you can transfer the text from the Express Editor to the desired application by voice. In addition to general support for Mac OS X Mountain Lion, Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 offers built-in commands for the new Notes and Reminders applications.
Also cool: Dragon Dictate supports Dragon Voice Shortcuts for searching the web, email and Mac desktop by voice. In addition to the voice commands that MacSpeech Dictate already offered for controlling Mac applications such as Safari, Mail, iCal and iChat, the new Dragon Dictate for Mac adds more ways to interact with the Mac by voice.
You can speak a dynamic command, such as "Search Google for 'pizza places'," and Dragon Dictate helps you find what you're looking for. To click the mouse, you simply speak a command such as "Mouse Click," "Mouse Double/Triple Click," "Press/Hold Mouse" or "Release Mouse." Optional "modifiers" designate one or more keys such as Command, Option, Shift or Caps Lock.
What's more, Dragon Dictate lets you transcribe recorded audio files using a digital voice recorder, or your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Simply establish a user profile for a digital voice recorder, and Dragon Dictate transcribes the recorded audio files, says Mahoney. Dragon Dictate for Mac supports .wav, .m4a, .m4v, .mp4, .aif, and .aiff audio file formats, as well as any recorded notes using the free Dragon Recorder app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (fourth generation).
Finally, Dragon Dictate now features support for 16kHz wideband Bluetooth wireless headset microphones, allowing for increased accuracy for Bluetooth headset users through a higher-quality audio signal. When Dragon detects that a certified microphone is paired with the Mac, Dragon offers "Enhanced Bluetooth" as an audio source type. The improved audio quality eliminates the requirement for Bluetooth users to do initial voice training, allowing you to get started faster.
Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 is available starting at US$199.99. Registered owners of Macspeech Dictate or Dragon Dictate can purchase an upgrade for $149.99 through Nuance's website, as well as its global network of reseller partners, software retailers and professional sales organizations.
If you need, or want, basic voice command and dictation capabilities, Apple's Dictation software that comes with Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion may be enough. But if you want voice recognition software with more power and more features, Dragon Dictate should be your choice.
Macsimum rating: 9 out of 10
-- Dennis Sellers