A new feature Nuance is talking up is that many of DNS’s dictation commands can now be used in on-line e-mail services, too, so you benefit from this level of control in the composition fields of Hotmail and Gmail. It can also be used for most Windows commands and is ideal for those who work on their own or who speak loudly on mobiles in trains.
On-line e-mail services benefit from a side panel of command prompts on the right
Click for a larger image
The other four key new features in DNS 12 include a 20 percent improvement in out-of-the-box accuracy, the ability to use an Android phone as a wireless microphone, an interactive tutorial and longer and better chosen lists of alternatives, when the program mis-recognises.
Version 11 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking already claimed 99 percent accuracy, meaning on average one error every 100 words, so you can now expect one error every 120 words. Under test, I saw rather more, though in dictating a review like this – with a lot of numbers and technical terms – it still did remarkably well. The overall accuracy of the program depends heavily on the quality of the sound stream it hears. It will, for example, give better accuracy with a wired, noise-cancelling headset, than from a DECT or Bluetooth mic, which in turn will be better than the microphone in a typical mobile.
Android remote access now supported
I mention the mic in a mobile as DNS 12 adds Android support to the iPhone support it already provided, so you can use a phone as your input source over a Wi-Fi link. When I tried this, it worked, but it isn’t as convenient nor as accurate as a dedicated headset. You can also use a phone, media player or portable recorder to record notes and then transcribe them from the recording. Again, the better the mic quality, the better the text file the program produces.
Another aspect that Nuance endeavours to address in DNS 12 is user preferences for how certain words or phrases should appear. The Smart Format Rules feature attempts to learn these quirks as you go, but for technical writers, it's not as clever as I'd like it to be.
Limited facility to make global formatting changes
Most UK titles require numbers below 10 to be spelt out with those above to appear as numerals and DNS 12 gets this, so we're doing fine so far. However, most also require units of measure to follow directly after a number, with no space between. So, I write five kilograms (below 10), but 15kg, not 15 kg, the latter being the default in DNS. Alas, you have to change individually every abbreviated unit of measure to remove the preceding space. There’s no global facility for this.
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Re: "Expensive" If what one wants first and foremost is accurate dictation/voice command......
................rather than the full-song-with-choruses integrations provided by the premium version then the "Home" edition is fine and reasonably good value for money. It also occurs to me that as tablets get more powerful it might be a useful facility on an x86 tablet for knocking off a (relatively) large amount of text input when on the move without the painful experience of trying to do that scale of input via a virtual keyboard. Something like Sammy's 11 inch "Slate" series or the Surface Pro should cope perfectly well with a program like this. A combination of voice and a modern stylus, for example, could be very effective indeed. Being able to choose how one interacts with a piece of kit (as the kit is now getting way more powerful than it was) whether it's voice, touch, stylus or keyboard/mouse or any permutation thereof that suits may produce some very interesting developments in the way we actually use our devices.
I've been using DNS 8 for what must be getting on about 10 years now, on various machines and I'm replying to you using it. These days I had to run it inside VMware because for some magic reason 32-bit Windows software won't run on 64-bit Windows.
I couldn't manage without it.
The article says that you should use high-quality microphone, my experience is that £60 headphones aren't very good whereas a £15 rubbish headset with a little treat [that should be battery] booster box works considerably better. A quiet room is essential, and I have found that it is a lot easier to dictate while looking away from the screen because otherwise you are reading your own words appearing and there's some kind of feedback loop which screws you up -- to tip, that.
To answer your questions, there is a mode where it apparently can guess the punctuation based on your hesitations, but I never tried it. I tend to explicitly speak the punctuation like this:, ', ",;, -- these are all spoken ("comma", "apostrophe", etc). When you first get going you have a strong and conscious temptation to say "hello comma Jim" in normal conversation. Quite disconcerting, it goes away fairly soon.
It can certainly make a good guess at what you intend by context, although most regularly for me confuses 'to', 'too' and '2'.
Some examples in context (direct and uncorrected)
"just the two of us"
"this is John's phone"
Harmony and confusion is inevitable [that should have been homonym confusion is inevitable], and you really must carefully proof read any e-mails you send out, the weirdest and sometimes slightly offensive stuff can appear.
The claim of 99% accuracy, or whatever it is, is always going to be complete rubbish in less [unless] it's the most ideal text spoken most clearly under the most perfect conditions.
Anyway, it's a bloody miracle for anyone with RSI.
It's even possible to program with it, albeit painfully slowly. It's certainly not designed for it.
The above was almost completely done with Dragon, with a few corrections by hand (other than the ones I've marked).
I use the predecessor (11.5) to help with my incipient RSI as well.
Punctuation you have to spell out. It'll likely have a good crack at some commas in lists say.
Yes it's contextually aware. That's the whole point of the software and where it gets its reliability from. It also knows how apostrophes work.
The important thing - which this "review" completely missed - is that the program is adaptive. This is also the big difference between it and cloud versions (as though anyone cares where it runs!). When you use it it will make mistakes. You'll be tempted just to go and correct the errors using your keyboard. Don't. Instead you need to invest the time to correct mistakes using DNS itself. Then it will learn what you meant which increases the reliability hugely.