I once mentioned on a MPU episode that I use a small digital recorder with Dragon Dictate. Since then I’ve had a lot people asking which recorder I use. It’s this one (Amazon Affiliate Link). I picked this up at an office supply store and didn’t do a lot of comparison shopping. There are a few things I really like about it though. The USB port folds into the device so I don’t need to find a cord when I want to download. The battery life is great and it is light in my pocket (plastic). It saves audio files to MP3, and my voice sounds great even when I record while walking down the street.
Why don’t I just record onto the iPhone? The physical buttons make a real difference for me. I start and stop between just about every sentence. I also can turn it on and record virtually anywhere without looking at it. As an example, I’ll often take a walk after eating my lunch and record into the Sony for later transcription. It’s also great for diary entries.
On the heels of our recent Read it Later show, I received an email from listener David Ianni concerning an app I’d never heard of before, Voic Dream ($10). If you’ve ever wanted to have your iPhone read out loud entries from your Instapaper or Pocket lists, Voice Dream is exactly what you’re looking for. It grabs any selected article and reads it to you out loud. I’ve always got more stuff I want to read than time to read it. I’ve also got a 30 minute commute each way every day. Using Voice Dream, I’ve started listening to the long form articles that I feel like I never have time to read. It comes with an American female voice but if that doesn’t float your boat, you can buy a variety of other male and female voices for three dollars each. I bought Rachel, a British female voice, because that’s just how I roll. Voice Dream can also read from your Evernote and even Dropbox folders. There is a crippled free version if you want to see how it works before buying.
In addition to reading you the words, it also displays them. I could see this being useful for someone trying to learn English as a second language. You can also set the reading speed. I’ve got mine set to 80 words per minute and it works just fine. Voice Dream is one of those apps that I’ve always wanted but never really articulated. It solves a problem in my life and it may for you too.
I am a big fan of the voice recognition software. I use Nuance’s Dragon Dictate on the PC and MacSpeech Dictate on my Mac. I was very pleased to see that Nuance, the developer of the Dragon engine, has released a Dragon Dictate iPhone app. For now, at least, it is free. I immediately downloaded and tried it out. Indeed, this post was written using it.
With no training whatsoever, the application immediately began recognizing my speech. This application does not perform the speech recognition on your iPhone but instead sends the voice file to the Dragon servers which do the heavy lifting and then send it back. It is all rather seamless. However, in order to work, you must be on a wi-fi or internet connection.
The only frustration is that it only works in short bursts. After two or three sentences, it will stop, send the voice file to the Nuance servers, processes your blurb, then be available for you to resume dictation. It also doesn’t like swear words, as discovered by Andy Ihnatko.
If you’ve ever been curious about dictation software, go download it now.