What is the Best Dictation App for iOS?
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Better than Siri Dictation?
Until now the best dictation app for iOS has been Drafts. This is because it extends the capabilities of the Siri dictation. With Siri dictation you only get about 45 seconds of speaking time before it stops and you have to manually restart it. When dictating into Drafts you can keep going for as long as you want. The restart is done automatically. There is the possibility of losing a word during the changeover process from one Siri instance to the next. You do see where the breaks are because it inserts a space and a couple of characters so you know Siri has stopped and started automatically. It’s an excellent way of dictating on iOS. When your dictation session has ended you just have to tap on the button ‘Insert’ and it’s pasted into your document. However, I’ve been trying out another application which is just called Dictation and it works fairly well. Let’s have a look at the app by Blueshift.
The Best Transcription app for iOS
It’s a dictation app, but to a certain extent it’s more of a transcription application. It records an audio file at the same time as it converts the audio into text. This is useful because you can listen back to the audio and read what’s been converted. If it’s made any mistakes you can easily change them to what it was supposed to say.
Getting Started with the Dictation App for iOS
As with all applications on iOS it’s an easy install. When you open up the application you get a screen with a red button you press to start the process of dictation. There’s a graphic to show its listening to what you’re saying. On the left-hand side above that graphic there’s a timer to show how long you’ve been talking for. At the top of that section you’ll see text appearing as it converts the audio into text. It doesn’t always keep up with how fast you are speaking. It’s just to show it’s working. To the left of the pause button there’s an icon with two arrows pointing away from each other diagonally. I thought this was going to make the section of the screen take up all the iPad screen. Instead it changed so instead of the graphic for the representation of it listening to you, you see the text converted so far. You can go back to seeing the waveform representation of your voice being listening to by tapping again on that icon with the two diagonal arrows pointing away from each other at the bottom of the screen.
As you are dictating there’s a pause button so you can stop briefly and restart again with the same audio file and dictation session. To the right of that there’s an icon which looks like it’s supposed to put in a marker. When you tap on this dictation app for iOS, it doesn’t seem to do anything. However, It does actually add the markers to the audio and text.
I noticed when I stop speaking for a little while it will automatically put in a full stop/period That’s fairly handy although it could be annoying because sometimes you are stopping to think and you’re not actually at the end of a sentence.
I just got an automatic set of menu items because I stopped recording to take a screenshot. That’s fairly handy meaning you can go off to whatever other application and come back to your dictation and start your recording again. Having it do an automatic pause is useful. When you’re finished you click on the pause button. This opens up that menu again and have the options of continuing your recording or clicking on ‘Save, I’m done’ or you may delete the recording.
Saving Your Work
When you click on ‘Save I’m Done’, Dictation App saves your recording with the name – New File. Tap on this and a dialog window comes up for you to rename the file. Tap on the file you just renamed and it will open up a working area to the right side of the application. At the top of the screen there’s a waveform representation of the audio. Underneath that you have a set of controls. The first one is an image of a turtle which plays the audio slowly. There are two buttons for going back 15 seconds or forward 15 seconds. There’s a play button and a button for seeing a list of markers. To remove these markers you place the cursor after the marker in the text and press the delete button on your keyboard.
The representation of the audio and the text you see in the text editing area are linked. If you tap on a word in the text area, the cursor in the audio area moves to that spot on the audio. This also works the other way around in this dictation app for iOS. Tap on a section in the audio timeline and the text below is highlighted.
How Good Is This Dictation On iOS App To Use
It’s a different dictation experience to using DragonDictate. With Dragon Dictation you can use commands to edit your text as you are speaking. With this dictation application for iOS you don’t get the option to edit words by deleting them and replacing them with others during the dictation. You do get to add punctuation by saying the name of the punctuation item. Mostly when I’m dictating I speak in complete sentences, but sometimes I don’t. There are times when in the middle of a sentence I might stop to think about the words coming next. If you do this in this dictation app it will think you are at the end of a sentence and will add a full stop. It seems the best way to work with this application is to not think about it too much about the speaking part. Try your best to get your verbal flow going to get your ideas out of your head and into the audio/text. Wait until the editing stage to do the corrections.
With any writing there’s the actual writing part followed by the editing part. Same as when you use the keyboard. So you don’t need to look at the time needed to edit the text converted from audio as being an extra step in the process. Dictation is so much faster than actually using a keyboard and a really good way to efficiently get ideas and thoughts out of your brain and onto the page.
Something which would be nice would be the automatic deletion of long silences. When you are editing the text it does it in real time. So if we record for five minutes, it’s going to take five minutes to listen and edit. Although, you can shorten this by reading through your text and just listening to the audio where you think it’s got it wrong. Sometimes I can’t remember the actual words I spoke at the time. It’s great being able to hear verbatim exactly what it was I said. In the editing process I can choose whether I want to use my actual words or come up with something better.
Best practice for editing in the iOS dictation app
I think it’s too time-consuming to start at the beginning and listen to all of it as you read through the text. It’s possible to read the converted words quicker than the software will play the audio of you speaking. I like to read the words out aloud and make the basic corrections so the sentences make sense. Only listen to the audio of the dictation when you need to compare the audio with the words in the document.
I like the way I can zoom into the audio and also pan to where I want it to be. You just pinch out or pinch in to do your zoom. If you tap on the icon in the top right-hand corner, a circle with three dots in the middle, you get more options.
- Export file
- Trim file
- Resume recording
- Delete file
When you resume the recording the audio goes to the end of the previous audio. I only added a short sentence, but it seemed to take a few seconds before it actually updated the screen to show the added text. In my second test of this it actually took more than 10 seconds for the text to appear. I don’t mind that it took this time to do the job, what’s important is the dictation app for iOS did it correctly. It’s not an option you’re going to need to use very often. I’d say it’s probably better to start a new recording.
What Can You Do in the Settings?
There are four versions of English you can choose from. This is useful for me seeing as I speak with a British English accent. There are three versions of Spanish and two versions of Chinese. You can also use the application in Italian, and Brazilian Portuguese, Russian or Turkish.
There is an export setting to include timestamps in the transcript. This could be useful in some circumstances.
You may set up a recording shortcut for Siri. I will test how this works for use in shortcuts later.
In the editor settings you can choose how far you want to jump back or jump forward. You only have the choice of either 3 seconds, 15 seconds or 30 seconds. There is also the option of showing the waveform when editing. It isn’t a highly detailed waveform, but it is useful to see it there.
In the import settings you can toggle the option to import without transcribing. I suppose if you do this you can do the transcription later if you need to.
Good and Geeky Review of iOS Dictation App
The accuracy of the speech to text engine is fairly good. Obviously it’s not as good as using DragonDictate. That’s no surprise considering DragonDictate is the professional dictation software. After all, there is a huge difference in price. It’s $6.99 for the iOS version of Dictation by Blue Shift and $16.99 for the Mac version. The conversion of speech into text is done on device. The audio isn’t sent to a server for conversion. You have unlimited minutes for the transcription. Most transcription services you have to pay per minute of audio. It is a well thought out application which does what it sets out to do. It’s there to take the grunt work out of converting audio into text. For general dictation work on iOS I absolutely love this application. You pay a one-off price to use for live transcription/dictation. It’s nice there are no monthly fees to pay. Well worth the cost of the application. On the Mac I will be sticking with DragonDictate. Although it’s something I could consider using if a future Mac operating system update kills DragonDictate. Is this dictation app for iOS the best available? I think it could be.
Buy the Book
Dictation is three to four times faster than writing with a keyboard. In this book I go over all the things you should consider when you start with dictation. The best apps to use and how to get into the mind set of talking to your computer instead of pounding your fingers on a keyboard.
Nuance doesn’t support Mac dictation anymore with Dragon Dictate. You can still use the last version they made V6 with the latest Mac OS. I use it with Catalina and it works just as well as it used to.
I might do what some people do with running a virtual computer on my Mac with Windows. In that I will have the Windows version of Dragon Dictation. I don’t need to do that for now because it’s working fine. Maybe a project for the future. Or maybe the new accessibility dictation will improve.
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