iOS Dictation – Transcription Options

Dictation and Transcription Options for iOS.

I find typing to be incredibly slow compared with dictation. It’s not that I am a slow typist, it’s just that dictation really is much faster. If you have good software like the Nuance Dragon dictation software you’ll be able to easily write thousands of words per day. The big benefit is that at the end of the day you won’t have sore wrists due to bashing the keys on your keyboard. It does take a little bit of getting used to, to talk to the computer instead of using a keyboard. You’ll find there is a transition period where the software has to become used to your voice and for you to become used to speaking instead of typing. I have noticed in a Facebook DragonDictate group that some people find it difficult to get past this introductory phase of becoming a dictator. It seems that many people are still thinking about how the text looks on the screen. Why on earth do you need to worry about whether there are indents at the beginning of your paragraphs? Why do you need to worry about the size of the text on the screen? Surely you’ll have set up your software to have a readable text size in the software preferences. If you look past the little niggles that can happen as you learn to use speech to text software you’ll find dictation has many advantages. You’ll then be wondering how you can continue using dictation on your mobile devices. You’ll be pleased to know there are a number of options allowing you to dictate your words on your iPhone or iPad. Let’s have a look at our iOS dictation – transcription options.

Speech to text options on iOS

  • Use the built-in Siri dictation.
  • Use the free Nuance DragonDictate software.
  • Use audio software to record your voice and then use transcription services in Dragon on your Mac or PC.
  • Using the application called ‘Just Press Record’ which has transcription contained within.
  • Pay for the Nuance Dragon Anywhere monthly service. This will connect up with your dragon dictation software on your desktop computer.

Using the built-in Siri dictation in iOS.

I am always using this system level speech to text facility in iOS. Whether I’m writing emails, sending text messages to my wife or to my extended family, or writing a longer piece using the Ulysses application I will nearly always use Siri dictation. I find it works better when you have a faster Internet connection. Not only does the converted text come back to you faster, but it seems to be more accurate as well. I have had sessions where I’ve written between 700 and a thousand words in just a few minutes using Siri dictation.

The best way to do it is to speak two or three sentences and then check the converted text. If there are small mistakes that don’t change the meaning of what was said I may or may not fix the mistakes. I fully expect to do an editing of the text before I actually use it. When writing a longer piece it’s better to keep in the flow of the ideas coming of what you want to say. Creativity will be stifled if you have to stop and start continually. If there is a word or two that are completely wrong and change the meaning of sentence I will make changes. This is to help me remember exactly what I wanted to say. With iOS it’s quite easy to select a word, get rid of it and put in the correct word. I do have to remember I don’t have all of the Dragon dictation facilities with Siri dictation. I sometimes forget and try telling the Siri dictation to scratch a word. Overall, the Siri dictation works incredibly well and the small annoyances don’t get in my way of writing using dictation on iOS.

Using Nuance dictation software for iOS

Once again, looking at iOS dictation – transcription options I’m testing of using this Dragon Dictation software from Nuance. Is not up-to-date and there is a message to say it should be receiving attention from the developers. When you press the button to start recording you get a visual on the screen to show it’s recording, but you don’t get to see the words arriving on the screen as you do with Siri dictation.

Dragon Dictation iOS

When you finish doing your recording you’re presented with a screen. This shows all of the words which have been converted into editable text. This first screen lets you delete words singularly. Tap on the word and then you’ll get a pop down or pop-up which will delete that word. It is also possible to go into the editing mode by bringing up the keyboard. When you’re editing the words in this way you’ll be doing it in the same way as if you were editing words after a Siri dictation. One of the good things about using this application is that you can talk for longer. It will still time out and you have to make sure you’re looking at the screen to see what is going on. If you have your eyes closed, as I sometimes do when dictating, the software might stop listening. You’ll then have the pleasure of talking to yourself. They do say that talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.

The previous two paragraphs were dictated using the Nuance iOS application. It seems that the application is being abandoned by Nuance because they want you to pay for the monthly subscription service. I don’t think there’s much advantage in using this software rather than using Siri dictation. It isn’t any more accurate or efficient than using the built-in Siri facilities of iOS.

Recording your voice and using transcription

Some people prefer to use transcription and some people prefer seeing the words come up on the screen as they are being spoken. I prefer dictating directly into whichever software. There are times when transcription is going to be a better option. This could be if you’re driving, walking or running or in any other situation when you’re unable view the screen as you talk.

The Importance of a Good Microphone

You’ll need to arrange a good setup for your microphone. The placement of the microphone will also make a difference in the quality of the dictation. If you have the microphone set close to your face (the sound source) you can still get good dictation even if the environment is not totally quiet. Basically what you want is a good signal to noise ratio. If the recording signal, your voice is clear compared to any background noise then you’ll still likely to have successful transcription sessions. I have tried a number of Bluetooth microphones and none of them were any good for me at all. These were the microphones at the cheaper end of the scale. There are Bluetooth microphones which probably will do a good job, but I didn’t want to spend any more money on microphones. I already have a number of good quality wired microphones. It’s a good idea to have a microphone which is unidirectional so that it picks up less of the wider noise landscape. I find a clip-on microphone is a good idea. These microphones work best if you have a small windshield cover for them if you’re outside and in a windy environment. It’s best if you can clip them on in such a way as they are not rubbing against your clothes and also creating noise in that way. A good option is to use a headset microphone. When you have the microphone on a boom so it is positioned right in front of your mouth you just can’t go wrong. A headset microphone is also good for keeping the microphone at a single specified distance from your mouth. If you’re constantly changing the position of your microphone the overall efficiency of the dictation will be compromised. Having a good microphone is important whether you are dictating directly into software or if you’re going to go for transcription. The microphones available on the iPad and the iPhone are decent microphones, just make sure you hold your mouth close to it. The wired ear pods you get with Apple products can also work out fairly good.

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Using ‘Just Press Record ‘ For Transcription

One way to use this application is to just make a recording of your voice and to bring it into the DragonDictate on your Mac. DragonDictate has excellent transcription facilities. If you’re worried about the accuracy of the speech to text conversion you can also listen to the recording and compare it to the words produced by the software. If you have your microphone setup well and you are speaking clearly you will get a good quality transcription of your voice. Good enough that you’ll be able to understand what it was you said and be able to edit text ready to use. Don’t think of editing the text as an extra step because of dictation. Whether you are typing or dictating text it needs to be edited before it is published.

Just Press Record

The application ‘Just Press Record‘ is simplicity itself to use. After opening the application you are presented with a screen with a button. Press that button to start recording. You can record for as long as you like and just press the button again to finish off your recording. When you finish recording you have two options available. One option is to send the recorded audio to transcribe in DragonDictate on your Mac. The other option is to use the built-in transcription service of the application. In my tests the results are mixed. One recording I made was as good as using DragonDictate. In another recording I made, the results were nowhere near as good. If you’re going to use this as a quick way to get your ideas out of your head and onto the digital page I would think it is a good option. The transcription is quick enough and is more or less real-time. Five minutes of audio could take about five minutes to be transcribed. Transcription in DragonDictate on the desktop computer will be faster.

After you have made your recording and done the transcription you can press the play button at the bottom of the screen. The audio will play and the transcribed text will scroll across the screen. You can see how well the transcription has worked right in the application. I was actually quite surprised at how well the application did with the transcription. The next thing to do is to make use of the transcription text. On the left-hand side of the screen is a circle with three dots on it. Tap on this button to get access to four options. If the transcription is terrible you can tell it to remove the transcript. Otherwise, you can share the transcript to other applications able to accept text. It’s also possible to share the recording or delete it. If you want to share the recording you get the share menu. From there you can use AirDrop or use other applications to transfer the file to where you want it. I like using the application Transmit or the application Sync to send the file to my Mac. I can also use Dropbox or iTunes file sharing. Send it to another audio application such as Twisted Wave (my favourite iOS audio editor) to edit the audio. You might want to chop out sections, use filters to clean up the audio, or increase the volume of the audio before you send it to wherever you want to work with it.

Using Dragon Anywhere

I haven’t been able to use this software because it’s not yet available in Spain. so it’s not iOS Dictation – Transcription Options I’ll be able to use.  It’s only available in the US and in the UK. I did try to download it and use a trial of the software using my UK iCloud account, but I had no success at all. There was no way around it. The $15 a month is too expensive for my needs. I would rather record the audio using either ‘Just Press Record’ or ‘Twisted Wave’ and use the DragonDictate on the Mac. I think I’ve paid enough for the software already. The advantages of using Dragon Anywhere is that you can use the dictation profiles from your desktop software. If you’ve spent a lot of time training your Dragon to understand you this can be invaluable. The desktop software does learn to understand your accent and the words you use so it improves as you go. Accuracy with Dragon Anywhere should be better if you’re using in conjunction with DragonDictate.

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What are the best options or workflows for using dictation software on iOS

If you’re just doing a little bit of text entry through dictation then the first port of call will be using Siri dictation (Probably with Drafts app). For a longer piece of work, I would also continue using Siri dictation if my Internet connection was fast enough. The next in line would be to use the free Dragon Dictation application as I find it works quite well for me and my voice. Transcription is worth considering for those times when you can’t view the screen while talking to your mobile computer. There are some people who would still go for transcription first before using the options that I prefer to have at the front of the queue. There are a number of variables such as the microphone, environment, whether it is noisy or quiet, Internet connection and whether you intend to write a lot of words or not. Whichever way you go about it there will be a dictation option that’s going to work. There’s not going to be too many occasions where you’ll have to drop down to the slower way of working, either typing on the glass screen of the mobile device or using an external keyboard.


One of the best iOS Dictation – Transcription Options – Dictate into Drafts

I really love using the application Drafts for collecting short notes. There is now an extra button on the Drafts extra keyboard toolbar. It has a picture of an old-fashioned microphone on it. Press the button and you go to a new screen dedicated to dictation. You get a slightly longer time to speak to the application to have your speech converted into editable text. When you’ve finished dictating tap on the Insert Button. The converted text will go into a new draft document where you can do further editing. Drafts is a fabulous application due to the inbuilt automation options. If you go to the button in the top right-hand corner you’ll get access to automations for sending your text to wherever you want it to go to. Drafts is also an excellent application for markdown editing. In the extra toolbar on the keyboard, you get quick access to markdown syntax.Drafts app is one of the best iOS Dictation – Transcription Options.

iOS Dictation - Transcription Options

Dictation on the Mac with Dragon Dictate

It’s an older version but works pretty much the same now I’m using version 6


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