Macworld Masterclass: The great dictator

Too laid back to type? Try talking to the iPhone instead with Dragon Dictate

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  • Dictation Main Intro
  • Dictation1 Step 1: Location and contacts
  • Dictation2 Step 2: Look who's talking
  • Dictation3 Step 3: Keyboard editing
  • Dictation4 Step 4: In-app editing
  • Dictation5 Step 5: Punctuation 101
  • Dictation6 Step 6: Sharing text
  • More stories
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Intro

In the past, using voice recognition software tended to be a disappointing experience. It was long-winded – all that ‘training’ where the program tried to learn the speaker’s various vocal tics, take account of regional accents, and so on – and in the end, didn’t always produce very satisfactory results.

As we’ll demonstrate in this tutorial, though, much has changed. Dragon Dictation is a free app that allows anyone to talk to their iOS device and then post the resulting note on Facebook or Twitter, email or text it to a friend, or copy it to another app. Dragon Dictation understands simple punctuation too, so it’s possible to format text notes with commas and full stops, paragraphs and so on. That way, there’s little or no need to tidy up the text later on.

Vital Info

Device: iPhone/iPad/iPod touch
Difficulty: Beginner
Time required: 10 minutes

What you need

iOS 4.0 or later
Dragon Dictation app (free)

Next »

Next Prev Dictation Main

In the past, using voice recognition software tended to be a disappointing experience. It was long-winded – all that ‘training’ where the program tried to learn the speaker’s various vocal tics, take account of regional accents, and so on – and in the end, didn’t always produce very satisfactory results.

As we’ll demonstrate in this tutorial, though, much has changed. Dragon Dictation is a free app that allows anyone to talk to their iOS device and then post the resulting note on Facebook or Twitter, email or text it to a friend, or copy it to another app. Dragon Dictation understands simple punctuation too, so it’s possible to format text notes with commas and full stops, paragraphs and so on. That way, there’s little or no need to tidy up the text later on.

Vital Info

Device: iPhone/iPad/iPod touch
Difficulty: Beginner
Time required: 10 minutes

What you need

iOS 4.0 or later
Dragon Dictation app (free)

 

Step 2 of 7: Step 1: Location and contacts

Download Dragon Dictation and tap the icon to start. When it asks to use your location, tap Yes and choose it from the list. Accept the licence agreement and then decide whether to give the app access to your contacts list – names are collected to help the app recognise the more troublesome (in the phonetic sense).

 

Step 3 of 7: Step 2: Look who's talking

In the main dictation window, you’ll see a big red button in the middle: tap this to start dictating. There’s also a settings button at the bottom right and a keyboard button at the bottom left that isn’t active yet. Are you ready to start? Try tapping the button and dictating a short note. Click Done to finish.

 

Step 4 of 7: Step 3: Keyboard editing

The text will appear on your iOS device’s screen, and now the soft keyboard can be activated by tapping its icon – use it as usual to move around and correct mistakes. Alternatively, you can tap the red button (now relocated to the bar below the text) to add more text to the existing note.

 

Step 5 of 7: Step 4: In-app editing

As well as using the iPhone’s soft keyboard, Dragon Dictation offers simple editing tools of its own. Tap and hold a word to highlight and delete it; or tap and hold, then drag to highlight more than one word and delete the whole phrase. To replace a deleted word, position the cursor, tap Record and start speaking.

 

Step 6 of 7: Step 5: Punctuation 101

The voice recognition is surprisingly good, and the only reason there’s no punctuation here is that we didn’t include any. Try recording something, but this time add punctuation by saying things like ‘comma’ and ‘full stop’, and the app will interpret these as formatting commands rather than actual text.

 

Step 7 of 7: Step 6: Sharing text

Having recorded something, Dragon Dictation makes it easy to share the text. Tap the share button at the bottom right of the screen. Next, select a social media service such as Facebook or Twitter, copy the text so it can be reused in another iPhone app, or send it via email or text message.

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