Dictate 1.0.1

Dictate 1.0.1

Dictate comes with a USB headset.


Dictation programs act as your personal typist, transcribing words as quickly as you speak—theoretically, anyway. Initially, Dictate did an excellent job transcribing our spoken phrases into onscreen text. And it even let us control menus, edit text, and access other functionality in the open app, so we kept our hands off the keyboard with great success. Dictate impressed us with its quick, accurate performance. However, we hit a wall almost immediately. In its initial release, Dictate can’t improve its accuracy when listening to your corrections. If it thinks you mean “racket” when you say “wrecked,” it always will until MacSpeech releases an update.


Dictate comes with a headset microphone and USB adapter, so it can listen accurately to your voice. After a confusing installation where the software seemed like it might have crashed for about two-and-a-half minutes, we began talking. Dictate guides you through its calibration process, prompting you to read onscreen text. The software learns your individual voice, although other users can run the same process themselves if they share one Mac. After only about five minutes of reading, the app let us begin dictating in any application.


We were even more impressed with the speed of the initial setup considering how well the program interpreted our speech. Dictate instantly transcribed our even, clear talking pattern. We had to enunciate a little more than we would in normal conversation, but otherwise spoke at a standard clip. Menu commands and application interaction generally worked well, although there’s a lot for users to learn, such as specific voice commands to activate various functions. Still, if you can’t (or don’t want to) use a keyboard-and-mouse, those deep options offer an excellent alternative.


Still, Dictate’s exciting initial performance leads to some disappointment, since this version can’t improve its accuracy over time the way other voice-activation software can. We let the software skim some of our documents, where it imported new words that weren’t in its default dictionary. But there’s no way to train it to the way you speak a specific word or phrase that it regularly misinterprets. Even if it scores an impressive 98 percent accuracy with your voice from the initial calibration, that means that it’s going to make a mistake every 50 words. That’s a lot of after-the-fact editing. At press time, MacSpeech told us they’re working on a free update that will help the app learn as you make corrections, so help is on the way.


The bottom line. As is, Dictate is an exciting, usually accurate way to transcribe speech to text and control your Mac. While its present inability to improve over time is a bit frustrating, it still seems magical and should only get better with future updates.


COMPANY: MacSpeech

CONTACT: www.macspeech.com

PRICE: $199

REQUIREMENTS: Intel processor, Mac OS 10.4.11 or later

Impressive, immediate transcription accuracy. Isolates speech in somewhat-noisy environments. Controls Finder functions and in range of applications.

Can’t learn from your corrections over time. Confusing installation process looks like the program has frozen. Occasional bugs.




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