The software is called Dictate, by the folks at MacSpeech. Dictate is voice recognition software for the Mac. I must admit, I’ve played with voice recognition software in the past and have never been very impressed with the performance. I had been reading fairly good reviews of dictate over the last several months, but I still came to it with the expectation that I would be disappointed.
The installation of Dictate was a snap. Once installed, the software takes you through a five-minute reading session to train the software to recognize your voice. Once you’ve done this you are good to go.
My first test was reading a few paragraphs from a book into Microsoft Word. I spoke with my normal voice and at a normal pace. Dictate wrote the words flawlessly. MacSpeech claims that dictate will work with pretty much any software. So my next test was to open Pages and speak stream of consciousness for a dozen or so sentences. Again, Dictate performed without a flaw. I am a hopelessly slow typist, so I was becoming excited about the possibilities .
Next, I opened iChat and began chatting with one of my friends. I was able to bury my friend with several sentences of words in a matter of seconds. My friend was certain that I had overdone on the cappuccinos.
I must say that I am pleasantly impressed with Dictate’s performance. I’m excited to think about all the ways I can use Dictate. As I speak, I am in WordPress and writing (speaking) this blog post. I will even be exploring the possibility of using Dictate as a way to caption movies. To really use the full power of Dictate, it’s necessary to learn a few dozen commands for things like text editing and movement, capitalization, and punctuation.
As I’m speaking and seeing what is written, it makes me think about the differences between how we think when we are writing on a keyboard versus how we think when we are speaking. I’m experiencing some real differences in my thought processes as I speak aloud the words I wish written. I wonder if Dictate will give my writing style a more conversational tone. That might be a good thing.
The software comes bundled with a Plantronics headset with mic, and sells for about $200.