Using Your Voice To Search, With Dragon

Clearly, Nuance is not content to rest on its laurels with its somewhat controversial, but ultimately way cool, text-to-speech iPhone application. Apart from making Naturally Speaking available for iPod Touch and clearing up the contacts upload issue, Nuance has also just released a voice-driven search app called Dragon Search (App store link) that works across search engines. This distinguishes Dragon from Google and Bing, which only permit search on their own search engines, and Vlingo, which searches via Yahoo. It is a free application and employs a simple, easy-to-use interface. Both search engine selection and results appear on the same page.

Check it out, and let me know what you think!

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The Dragon On Your iPhone

Way back in the day, I always thought it extremely cool when the crew of the Enterprise used to speak out load to the ship’s computer and Majel Barrett’s soothing voice would respond accordingly.

Fast forward to today – I am often found cursing my iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard and the stupidly stubborn suggestions that it insists I really meant to write. Add to that the fact that there are many times I wish I could access a function on my phone without having to huddle over the screen and hunt and peck.

Enter the Dragon. Nuance Software’s Dragon Naturally Speaking has long been the name associated with dictation software for your desktop or laptop. From its humble beginnings, Dragon has evolved to become quite a powerful tool, capable of all sorts of functionality from email, to wordprocessing to search and beyond.

Nuance has now released an iPhone application called Dragon Dictation to bring some of that verbal pizzaz to the iPhone. The 3GS has limited voice functionality already built in, accessed by pressing and holding the home button. However, Dragon brings this functionality one step cooler by employing speech recognition technology to power emails and text messages and even the phone’s clipboard for cutting and pasting. Text is editable, too, so you aren’t stuck with “elephants dance merrily while I make cookies in the petunia patch” from your original phrase “just wanted to see if you needed me to pick up some milk tonight.”

The only drawback is that the service does require an internet connection (unlike the built in voice control) so that Nuance’s servers can go to work on your speech.  Oh and the other objection is price. No, wait, strike that. It’s FREE (for a limited time only).  For iPhone OS 3.1 users only. Go get it!

Speak Legalese to Your Computer & It Might Just Understand You

I have been toying with purchasing Dragon Naturally Speaking. I just love the idea of pacing back and forth, turning to my computer and bossing it around, ordering it to perform tasks without being tied to the keyboard, mouse or glide point. I have held off to date due to the cost of the program and my uncertainty as to whether it would work for my particular situation.

ABA Law Practice Today has an article by Rodney Dowell about a new version of Naturally Speaking that is particularly attuned to legal professionals. Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 Legal gets a thumbs up from Dowell, who was skeptical due to his questionable results with Version 9 Preferred. I haven’t used the program yet, so I cannot review it. But I can encourage you to hit the jump above, as Dowell puts a lot of detail into his review of this new and improved tool.

That law degree doesn’t come cheap. While Version 10 Preferred can be had for around the $150 range, Version 10 Legal ranges between $749 and $1,299. A key difference is the ability to dictate in Outlook and PowerPoint. The “legal” comes from the software coming pre-configured with legal vocabulary – nearly 30,000 legal terms – and the ability to format legal citations.

To summarize Dowell’s findings, here is his parting quote:

If you will only dictate in Word or WordPerfect buy Dragon Preferred. For me, however, the power of dictating to a computer lies in my ability to move across applications, work in Outlook and deal with e-mails, create macros and custom vocabularies, and the ability to create templates. This ability to broadly use the product across multiple applications is what makes the Dragon Legal edition a worthy purchase, especially at the lower price points.

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