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Nuance has just announced the next major version of its Mac dictation software, Dragon Dictate 4. The new version improves recognition accuracy as well as several new features, including the ability to machine transcribe from a pre-recorded audio file. You no longer have to be recording a voice live to get transcription.

Dragon Dictate for Mac creates a personalized voice experience for the Mac with the ability to create customized vocabularies to always recognize the words, phrases and names you use the most. Dragon remembers your corrections, getting more intelligent and accurate every time it is used. And because a data or Wi-Fi connection is not necessary, Dragon is always available to get to work.

“We’ve invested even more into the latest version of Dragon Dictate for Mac to make it the fastest and most accurate voice recognition experience for Mac yet – including customization and personalization capabilities that adapt to any customer’s unique way of working,”

said Peter Mahoney, Chief Marketing Officer, Nuance.

“Combined with powerful transcription features, Dragon Dictate now offers the most complete voice experience on the Mac today.”

So Whats New In Dragon Dictate 4?

Some of the new features I’m REALLY LOOKING forward to especially the new transcription features as listed below.  To be honest Dragon Dictate 3 was clunky and hard work to use for recording thoughts for later transcription.  Having to save files, import and deal with all that stuff.

POWERFUL TRANSCRIPTION

Accurately transcribe an audio file of any single speaker’s voice from podcasts or pre-recorded audio files.
Create transcription-only profiles to accurately transcribe based on recorded sources instead of requiring a live source.
Only a 90 second audio clip is required to create a profile for the speaker
Great for college lectures, interviews, business users with recorded notes…and more!
Transcribe from many different formats, including .mp3 audio files, in addition to .aif .aiff .wav .mp4 .m4a .m4v

Multiple transcription sources allowed within a profile so one user can easily manage different recordings

Expanded profile capability to allow multiple transcription sources per profile, making it even easier for one user to transition back and forth from personal dictation to one or more transcription files within the same project.

Not only can you easily transcribe your own voice memos from a smartphone or portable voice recorder into text, but you can seamlessly mix and match transcribing from other recording sources
You can keep all the customization and vocabulary from your profile without having to switch out to a different profile

MORE CONTROL
Compose and reply to emails in Gmail using full text controls, doing dictation and editing natively without having to transfer any text
In Safari and Firefox, use voice commands to control your Gmail inbox, giving you even more voice capability within popular applications
Use your voice to click on any visible link
Use your voice to open emails
Mix talking and typing with Full Text Control in Apple Pages 4.3
MORE ACCURATE AND FASTER
Higher performance with drastically reduced latency and faster editing with pure 64-bit application and improved memory management capabilities
Improved accuracy over version 3.x, with optimization for latest speech recognition technology.

Dragon Dictate costs $199.99 and is available from Nuance’s website as a digital download starting today. Boxed versions will be on sale starting March 18th.  I know I’m personally salivating to try out these new features especially the transcription side of things. We’ve reached out to Nuance for an eval copy so watch this space.

Hints & Tips For Better Dictation

I’ve always been a fan of speech recognition is despite the barrier to entry and some of the foibles you meet when typing with your voice.

Using Siri for short phrases of dictation is one thing but when you start going longer with your dictation that’s a whole different ball game. Here are some of my tips that may help.

Think before you speak.

You will substantially increase the chance of a successful dictation by constructing your sentences in your head and knowing what you were going to say before you start dictation. That’s not to say you have to be hundred percent grammatically correct but the better formed the sentence the higher your chance of success.

Slow Down.

TV presenters and news reporters always speak at a certain speed and cadence to emphasise the points and make sure everything they say comes out clear. This is why step one is so important by knowing what you are going to say you can concentrate more on the speaking than the thinking.

If you find that your dictation results are coming back with less than stellar results try slowing down your speech just a little. That’s not to say you should sound like a record being played at the wrong speed but just take the tempo down a notch.

Punctuation.

Writing a document means you usually know where to place those all important comments but speaking makes that process a whole lot harder. Well, for some. Despite several emails being fired off to different companies I’ve yet to find out if adding punctuation has a significant impact on dictation. If you have constructive the sentences in your head and know where to place that all important punctuation and then do so but, if you are like me, you aren’t sure where things should go then don’t worry about it too much. After all you always have the keyboard to fallback on.

Get a decent/half decent microphone.

You can get away with using the inbuilt microphone on your Mac as well as the headphones that come with your iPhone but nothing beats a half decent, noise cancelling microphone. The results really are astonishing. The placement of the microphone is also incredibly important. Ideally the microphone should be just below the top of your bottom lip. That way it can pick up what you are saying but not every single breath.

Learn how to correct your Dictation mistakes.

Even with a pro claimed success rate of 99% it’s inevitable that DragonDictate is going to get something wrong. You will save a bunch of time and increase your efficiency how of a lot by knowing the command to change words that have been incorrectly transcribed

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