Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking for the iPhone

Last Friday I downloaded and installed the new dictation software from Nuance Software for my iPhone. As a matter of fact, this entire post is a translation of my voice recording that Dragon Naturally Speaking Dictation converted to text for me, and in order to be fair I am not going to edit it in a word processor. This post is an example of the quality of the voice recognition and the applications ability to translate my spoken words into readable text.

The application was released on December 7th and is currently available for free at the iTunes App Store. The application is a voice-to-text translator that allows users to dictate texts, e-mails and notes. It also has copy and paste features built-in for easy transfer to other documents on your iPhone.

Nuance Communications, is primarily a provider of back-end services that power the kind of speech technology used in products like the Amazon Kindle and Microsoft’s voice command for the Ford SYNC. In the mobile sector, their voice-to-text technology is found in AT&T’s voicemail-to-text service, on devices such as the Samsung Rogue, and in Google’s iPhone search application.

Given the history of voice to text application, this software didn’t have to try very hard to impress me. So imagine my surprise when I spoke into the Nuance app it nailed a 3 paragraph-long e-mail. This application, which is currently available for free for a limited time, is simple to use. push the record button and say whatever it is you want to say. When you’re through, you can choose send a text message, e-mail message, or copy directly to the iPhone’s clipboard.

While I probably won’t use this app for quick e-mails or texts on the fly, the app works great for taking notes that I want to print later, or for replying to longer emails when you don’t want to use the virtual keyboard on your iPhone.

The only real complaint that most people will with the app is that it processes the text via the cloud. In other words, it takes what you’ve said, sends it via a connection, 3G or Wi-Fi, and then sends the results back to your iPhone. For longer messages, this can take a a bit more time depending on your connection. And if you don’t have a connection and you just want to dictate a note, you’re simply out of luck.

So here’s my final two cents on this. It’s free what do you have to lose? If you are looking for an easy to use precise speech to text application, then this is a great solution. The accuracy level is above 95 percent in quiet environments, and better than 80 percent in noisier ones based on the tests that I have done since last Friday. Not only that the app seems to improve with usage, so I’m excited to see just how accurate it can get over time.