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Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13: Better than ever at letting you speak freely

Christopher Null | July 29, 2014
Now in its 17th year and its 13th release, Dragon NaturallySpeaking remains the benchmark for Windows-based speech-to-text technology. At this point in the game, anyone who wants to use speech recognition software is probably already using it. Nonetheless, Dragon is hoping to entice new users to the product by adding new features and cutting the price of last year's $200 release. But will a $100 price tag and an incremental improvement in quality finally make you talk the talk?

Dragon still isn't perfect. Making changes and revisions as you go is still convoluted and non-intuitive. Even making a simple change, like adding the hyphen to the phrase "science fiction" through the Dragon voice command interface, is a complicated nightmare. Considering this task would otherwise require pressing all of two buttons on the keyboard to complete, it's not hard to see why some people don't stick with speech recognition for the long haul.

But the biggest issue I have with dictation software is hardly a new one. It's difficult to explain, but it seems that many of us have simply developed a strong link between the brain and the fingertips. While you're typing, sentences flow out of you at a more deliberate pace, and the process of tapping out one word somehow helps push the next word forward. I'm not the first person to remark that, as a product of the computer age, typing just feels more natural to me, and that my dictated writing comes off as somewhat stilted in comparison to my unbearably nuanced and well-crafted typed prose. All the accuracy improvements in the world won't change that. Those changes only come with time and lots of practice.

Of course, other users may find dictation freeing and may find leaving the keyboard behind is conducive to more creative thinking. If you're the kind of computer user who doesn't find Siri awkward and weird, well, you can probably ignore all of the above. If nothing else, Dragon gives you back plenty of time that you would have spent typing.


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