This week, Nuance released version 4 of Dragon Dictate for the Mac. I remember the days when dictation software on the Mac couldn’t hold a candle to that on the PC. We had applications like MacSpeech, which tried their best, but never could keep up with Dragon Dictate on the PC. When MacSpeech started licensing the Dragon Dictate engine, things turned around for us. When, a few years later, Nuance purchased MacSpeech and folded it into the Dragon Dictate line of software, things got even better.
Nevertheless, over the last few years, Dragon Dictate for the Mac has still been catching up to its well established and mature cousin on the PC. This newest version of Dragon Dictate for the Mac continues to close the gap. I’ve only been using it now for a few days but the recognition is noticeably better than version 3. Nuance explains that with this new version you can get up to 99% accuracy. For giggles, I dictated the passage I used in this MacWorld article where I tested Mavericks dictation and Dragon Dictate 3. Dragon Dictate 4 did better than version 3. Version 3 had nine errors. Version 4 had three. That is the most important take away from this new version of Dragon Dictate. It is more accurate.
The new version is now a 64-bit application with improved memory management and it is also faster. I dictate in the Dragon Notepad often but just as often I’ll dictate in Byword or Apple Mail. The application is definitely faster in these other apps than it used to be.
While version 3 had the ability to transcribe recorded words, the new version has more powerful transcription tools. You can now create transcription-only profiles that understand they are transcribing based on a recorded source rather than a live source. When you set up these transcription profiles, it will require a 90 second audio clip to create a profile for the speaker. Now you can sit in a room, or a college lecture hall, and just run a recording. Dragon Dictate then has the ability to transcribe that recording into words. This only works with one speaker.
Dragon Dictate also still has the command mode where you can drive your Mac with your voice. You can open windows, activate applications, and – with version 4 — control Gmail in your web browser.
My big take away from Dragon Dictate version 4 is that it is both faster and more accurate than its prior version. This alone makes it worth the upgrade. Nuance has taken Dragon Dictate for the Mac far enough that I’ve stopped using Dragon Dictate on the PC at work. If you’re already a version 3 user, you should upgrade. If you haven’t tried Dragon Dictate yet and you’re serious about getting your words into text quickly, now may be the time.
Like many things that get posted here, I am writing this by dictating to my Mac. To run Dragon Dictate you’re going to need an Intel Mac with Mountain Lion or better, 3 GB of free space on your hard drive and at least 4 GB of RAM (but they recommend 8 GB).