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Voice Recognition Software Review
How Can Voice Recognition Software Help You?
The top performers in our review are Dragon Professional Individual, the Gold Award winner; Dragon Premium, the Silver Award winner; and Dragon for Mac, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing voice recognition software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 8 products.
The best voice recognition software gives you the ability to streamline your workflow. In our increasingly busy world, this is a major reason it is gaining in popularity. Well-designed voice recognition software can help you dramatically increase productivity both at work and at home. You can dictate a document at roughly three times the speed of typing it. And with the right software, you can do so with even more accuracy.
Customized voice commands allow for hands-free dictation. Depending on the program, you can perform such tasks as telling your computer to open and edit a specific file so you don’t have to search through folders to find it. With a simple voice command, you can open your email account. You can use your voice to dictate and edit emails then send them to friends or colleagues.
These voice dictation programs adapt to you. By learning the words and phrases you use the most, the programs get better at dictating your messages over time, similar to the predictive text function found on most smartphones.
A job that requires a lot of multitasking can, at times, make typing a burden. With this software, you don’t even have to be in front of the computer screen to create documents.
Voice recognition apps also eliminate the need for holding a phone. Professionals aren’t the only ones who can potentially benefit from this software. Busy parents who need to send emails while using their hands for other tasks can benefit from this software. If you’re not a great speller, you’ll love the convenience of letting the computer spell tricky words for you. This software can also be a boon to people with disabilities or injuries that restrict keyboard and mouse use. Regardless of your station in life and your reason for needing this software, the best dictation software is easy to use and will simplify your life.
Choosing the Best Voice Recognition Software
Voice-to-text software is largely about speed and accuracy. The programs vary quite a bit in price, and spending a little more typically pays off in features and overall accuracy. Though you may have to spend some time learning the program, once you’ve mastered it, you can seamlessly navigate your computer and dictate documents faster than you could with a keyboard and a mouse. And in most cases, you can mute the software without closing out of it completely to prevent it from listening to you when you don’t need it to.
The busier your lifestyle, the more you can benefit from this software that helps streamline and simplify your life. The software packages on the market lend themselves to people of all stripes, including students, professionals and homemakers. You’ll want to find the text-to-speech software with the tools and functionality that best align with your lifestyle and needs. There are also versions available for Mac users, so consider which operating system you’d prefer to use before purchasing anything. Once you have customized the settings to your liking, you simply wake your computer up with the proper command and go to work hands-free.
Dictation: Accuracy and the Ability to Edit
The most important trait of voice dictation software is its accuracy. It needs to be able to quickly and accurately translate the words you dictate into whichever program you’re using, no matter your accent or local dialect. This kind of software is meant to save you time, and programs with a low accuracy score might make you go back and spend time manually editing your document.
In addition to recognizing your voice and turning the words you dictate into text, good programs should also make it easy to edit documents and apply formatting to them. Most programs, however, are only coded for basic formatting, like underlining or bolding, so depending on which program you ultimately select, you may still have to apply any advanced formatting you need manually. Some programs have a spell-check feature, and some allow you to select a particular word or sentence and modify it.
It’s important that the voice recognition software you choose has the capacity to handle the dictation of punctuation, symbols and special characters. Many options only allow for commas and periods, but the best programs let you insert anything into your document, even graphics. The program should also be able to open, close, minimize and navigate one or more programs, windows, folders and files smoothly.
Voice Tools: Customizable Commands, Words and Profiles
Many of these programs work decently right out of the box. However, you can dictate with increased accuracy with programs that include a voice training option. This lets you record a few paragraphs of text, allowing the software to become familiar with your voice and the way you talk and pronounce words. Some programs even allow for multiple voice profiles, allowing multiple people within your business or household to have unique profiles tailored to their voices and diction. Furthermore, the best software can understand a variety of voices, accents and languages.
Another useful feature is the ability to create custom commands to perform certain operations. Many applications only have preset commands, but a few allow you to add, edit, delete and otherwise customize them, for added ease of use.
Software that can transcribe audio files allows you to capture dialogue from a college lecture or a phone call, saving you the trouble of having to do so. Additionally, programs that allow you to mute the software’s listening ability give you privacy when you need it.
Compatibility: Works with Many Programs and Devices
The best speech-to-text software will not only be available on your preferred desktop operating system, but also in other formats. Most of the applications in our comparison are available for all recent Windows versions, and a few are available for Mac OS X or Linux. Any of the Dragon products are compatible with a companion smartphone dictation app, Dragon Anywhere, made by the same company and available separately for an additional subscription cost. The benefits of the companion app include allowing you to dictate anywhere. Certain companion smartphone apps even allow mobile-to-desktop syncing and have cloud compatibility.
Some of the programs we’ve reviewed here depend on additional equipment, such as a smartphone, microphone or Bluetooth headset. Some simply offer compatibility with Bluetooth devices just to make dictating easier for you.
Aside from working with your preferred computer and operating system, it’s also important that the dictation software works with your favorite software, whether they are native applications, like Notepad or iTunes, or something more exotic. Many programs work seamlessly with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, native Apple software and even email programs like Outlook. Some allow you to open, navigate and interact with internet browsers so you can search the web, read online news stories and post to social media sites hands-free.
One of the more unique features that a couple programs on our lineup have is the ability to work with PC games. The software can help you hit keys, shoot and move your mouse for more precise gaming, or simply allow you to play a game if you haven’t been able to due to a disability or injury.
Help & Support: Answers and Information
For the most part, this kind of software is designed to be intuitive and ready to use right out the box. But in case it’s not, the software’s developers should provide you with a myriad of informational resources to answer your questions or show you how to use a particular aspect of the program. The best companies host a combination of resources on their websites, like a knowledgebase, user manuals, video tutorials and a community user forum. In case you’re short on time, or simply don’t want to waste time reading through articles and manuals, companies should also provide you with at least one way of contacting their customer support teams.
Our hands-on testing is designed to simulate typical, real-world experiences with the product. For our tests on voice recognition software, we purchased the software just as a consumer would. The publishers have no input on our testing methodology, and our rankings are not shared with them prior to publication.
Voice Recognition Software: Our Verdict and Recommendations
Through our tests, we have identified the best voice recognition software programs currently available on the market. The best options are Dragon Professional, Dragon Premium and Dragon for Mac. Each has the features you need to write documents, send emails, browse the web and post to social media sites.
Some programs increase in accuracy the more you use them, as they adapt to your voice as well as the words and phrases you use consistently. Dragon Professional Individual has a high rate of speech accuracy out of the box, and it increases in accuracy the more you use it. This makes it the best tool for dictating and transcribing documents at work. Dragon Premium, our second-place winner, is also a highly- adaptable program. Occasionally you may use an expression that the software isn’t familiar with, but as you make corrections, it begins to recognize those, increasing its accuracy over time. Dragon for Mac, our third-place winner, is the latest iteration of Dragon’s Mac software, offering Mac users all the same tools and functionality that its sister products offer Windows users.
Another software package in our lineup, e-Speaking, is extremely affordable voice recognition software that offers online support services that make it easy to learn. If you are looking for simple software with basic functionality, it is a nice option.
Familiarizing yourself with the features of the different products in our dictation software reviews will enable you to choose software that suits your needs. The best vocal recognition programs will work in sync with the electronic tools you use every day, including Microsoft Office, email applications and others. Students and professionals of all kinds can benefit from this software, as can homemakers who want to free up their hands for other tasks. It can help you overcome writer’s block, avoid spelling errors, brainstorm ideas and multitask. This software is fun to use and helps you accomplish daily tasks quickly and efficiently.