Don’t you ever wish you had someone or something take your notes for you? You know, once in a while, when your body is completely drained but your brain is still alive with a cumulus of ideas.
I know I do. And, most of the time, I turn to the top Dictation Software available. All I have to do is speak and the application’s text-to-speech recognition feature converts my spoken words to text.
Maybe you were shipwrecked on an exotic and uninhabited Island and have been spending the past 20 years there and you want to know what a dictation app is. The most likely case—I’d say—is you’ve used these apps and they weren’t convincing enough for you because they weren’t very accurate.
I’ve got you covered!
My dear Crusoe, Dictation apps aren’t just intended to save you time, but by typing for you and performing commands, they help you prevent long-term joint-related damage to your hands.
And if you make a living by writing, you should know that the strain you put on your hands will catch with you. Dictation software isn’t the most effective answer, but they go a long way in alleviating the strain.
Without further stir, let us dive into the best dictation software stuff.
What Is Dictation Software?
Simply put, a dictation app has a voice-to-text recognition feature that enables it to convert your voice to text—Dictation apps are used to transcribe instead of typing the document.
Dictation software makes it easier for users to work hands-free and is convenient when you are multitasking or are just too tired to write. As a writer, I always have random story ideas in my head and I find dictation apps very helpful whenever I want to write down these story ideas before I forget them.
It’s easy to get lost in the thicket of the internet when you’re looking for dictation software. There are a lot of different types of apps and services that do a similar task to dictation software. And the terms used to describe these apps and services can be a little confusing—you see terms like voice recognition, speech recognition, speech-to-text, and voice-to-text. Most of these programs convert audio to text, but some of these can only convert audio files to text, not your voice to text in real-time.
You’re probably not looking forward to hearing about bush-league AI assistants or the second-rate speech-to-text apps that are built into many of your devices. These apps aren’t built to write articles for you, take minutes from your meetings, etc.
When you go window shopping for an all-round personal AI assistant to take care of all computer tasks using speech, you realize that you’re spoilt for choice. These apps are so helpful, especially when you’re busy freelancers, and because they come with a dictation component, they’re lifesavers for writers. But, in some cases, you’d be a little bit more for something like that compared to the cost of a pure dictation app.
Dictation apps are available as free and paid; in fact, the price tags do not matter as much as their quality.
Quality usually refers to the ability of the dictation software to pick up exactly what you are saying—the smaller the margin of error, the better.
What Makes A Great Dictation App?
For the past 15-20 years, dictation software has gone through a revolutionary journey that has culminated in an exciting and efficient AI-powered personal assistant. The dictation apps are more accurate and far more intelligent than they were 20 years ago.
In fact, Intelligence and accuracy are the requisites for a great dictation app.
An accurate dictation app not only lessens your burden of editing after dictating but also helps you speed up the writing stage. Most of the apps on the market are built to be intelligent; that means they are programmed to learn your accent and speech pattern to understand you better over time.
Ease of use also contributes to the usability and, consequently, the greatness of dictation software.
Apart from these factors, versatility and multilingual support are also important elements.
11 Best dictation software in 2021
Nuance has a lot of apps, and all of them are quite good. An award-winning speech recognition package, Dragon Home is the go-to app for writers, proofreaders, and people who are prone to getting their hands full.
This dictation software is—without a doubt—the big dog in the voice-to-text field of the industry. It employs the latest Deep Learning technology to smoothly adapt to different accents, work in noisy environments, and deliver up to 99% recognition accuracy. It can detect changes in your voice and the background while you are dictating to help you achieve high-quality dictation.
Supported Systems: Microsoft Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 (32-bit and 64-bit).
Pricing: One-time $200 payment.
What I Liked About Dragon Home
High Accuracy: Nuance claims that their app has a 99% accuracy rate. Going by this assertion, the app saves time that could have otherwise been wasted on editing the mistakes made by low-accuracy software.
Great for Proofreading: Dragon home has a playback feature that you can use to listen to a document while you proofread or edit that document. Reading aloud is encouraged when editing a draft, and the app does this on your behalf so all you have to do is listen and pick up inconsistencies, errors, and passages that just don’t sound right. It’s like an AI-powered proofreading buddy.
A user-friendly interface: The app has an intuitive interface that makes editing a little bit easier; thereby, saving you even more time.
Versatility: Apart from writing documents, Dragon Home can also help you surf the web post on your social media, compose emails, and do other tasks.
My Verdict on Dragon
One thing that would shoo away some potential users is Dragon Home’s $200 tag. But, when you get to use the software, you realize that it’s worth it. Dragon Home is intuitive, quick, and highly accurate. It is, simply, one of the best dictation software available.
Speechmatics is a powerful speech-to-text program that offers a wide range of great features and supports more than 31 languages, with all their dialects and accents factored in.
Speechmatics is also capable of subtitling—in real-time and with high accuracy—audio from a live stream, news channel, and other broadcasting options.
And that is not all, Speechmatic also provides advanced punctuation tools (i.e., it places full stops, commas, question marks, and other punctuation marks correctly). Plus, it lets you customize the user interface, configure a personal dictionary and add a set of context-specific words to the dictionary to improve your transcription accuracy.
Supported Systems: All Systems and Web browsers.
Pricing: Depends on your specific volume. Visit the speechmatics website to get a quote.
What I Liked About Speechmatics
Highly Accurate: It’s one of the most accurate speech recognition software on the market, probably in the top 3.
Fast Processing: Speechmatics is a powerful transcription engine that works quite fast.
Impressive API integration.
My Speechmatics Verdict
Obviously, having no native user app is a bummer but it has a quite impressive API integration and it turns out that it is very fast, even faster than other programs that have native apps. Although there’s no free trial or free plan available, the pricing seems to be fair since they use your expected value to quote your prices. However, if you intend to do some casual dictation, you might have to look somewhere else because you’ll end up overpaying.
The Braina speech recognition software, which has a pint of smart personal assistant capabilities, boasts of high accurate dictation that can be done in over 90 languages.
You can use this voice-to-text software (referred to as a smart personal assistant by the owners, Brain Artificial) to control apps and transcribe text on Windows, Android, and iOS.
Supported Systems: Windows, Android, iOS.
Pricing: Braina offers three plans. The free plan comes with basic features like English-only voice commands, text to speech, play search voice, and videos. Then there’s the Braina Pro plan, which costs $49/year, and lets you dictate in 90 languages, has custom voice commands, lets you control your music player using your voice, and has a mathematics function among others.
What I Liked About Braina
Multi-Lingual Support: When it comes to language support, Braina is one of the best (if not the best) as it supports more than 100 different languages and can convert text from one language to another. Braina can be used to issue voice commands in multiple languages not just English hence a great app for a lot of people from around the world.
Intelligent Adaptation: Braina intelligently learns and adapts to your accent and adjusts to your environment. It also learns the changes you usually make when editing text. These learning capabilities improve accuracy and are time-saving in the long run.
Other uses: The speech-to-text software can be used for text-to-voice playback and to perform complex mathematical calculations using commands that you customize.
My Braina Verdict
Fairly priced, precise voice recognition, and an AI-based learning capability, Braina is a great dictation solution for businesses, students, and home use.
Otter is, particularly, a great dictation software for researchers and students, Otter is a great app for taking notes, minutes of meetings, lectures, and recording interviews.
Otter is a highly accurate and responsive dictation software that uses Ambient Voice Intelligence (AVI) to learn as you speak. It is quickly becoming the preferred app for collaborative projects because of its team collaboration features such as Zoom live transcription, sharing voiceprints, and user management.
The ambient voice intelligence technology enables Otter to recognize voices better and learn special vocabulary. Otter also helps users record, organize, edit, search, and download documents and conversations from any device.
As a dictation software, I’m not convinced that Otter is as great as Dragon (because it is a hugely diversified app), but still, it is among the best voice-to-text software.
Supported Systems: Windows, iOS, Android, Blackberry.
Pricing: Otter offers four plans. There is a free package called Basic, then there’s an $8.33/month plan called Pro, and a Business subscription that is $20/month. Otter has a subscription plan for large organizations and it is called enterprise.
What I Liked About Otter
An excellent free plan: Otter’s free plan gives you access to some useful features, zoom cloud recordings, and 600 minutes of free transcription per month.
Great Collaborative Features: Features like zoom integration, longer live recordings, syncing Dropbox files, and sharing with groups are game-changing for people who work in teams.
Desktop and mobile support: Otter supports Windows and all popular mobile operating systems making it more versatile than it already is.
My Verdict on Otter
I admit Otter is quite pricey, but—and this is not a ceremonial ‘but’—the diverse features the software offers are worth every cent spent on this tool.
Not only is Google Docs Voice Typing a free online dictation tool but it’s also pretty impressive. Even better: Anybody armed with Chrome and a Google account—which, by the way, has always been free to create—can use this dictation tool.
Supported Systems: Windows, Mac, Online, and Chrome, Firefox, Safari internet browsers.
What I Liked About Google Docs
It’s Forever Free: Who doesn’t like free things? Free, high-quality things? It’s so unbelievable that you don’t have to spend a cent on such impressive dictation software.
Ease of use: Google docs is such an intuitive app that I actually found its voice typing feature by accident. I was typing some doc and was playing around with the formatting when I found the feature and in seconds, I voice-typed a paragraph.
Versatility: The fact that Google integrated this feature with Google Docs means you can utilize Docs’ formatting features while you dictate. Plus, your dictation is instantly saved to the cloud.
My Google Docs Voice Typing Verdict
Google Docs Voice Typing isn’t the ideal software for people looking for a tool for managing their applications, posting on social media, or surfing the net. And it only supports English.
However, if you’re looking for a tool that can help you create a lot of documents quickly and you’re on a strict budget, then Google Docs Voice Typing is the ideal solution for you.
Dragon Anywhere is the Dragon Home’s little brother and Nuance’s answer to your dictation needs on mobile devices. This software lets you create and edit documents using your voice and gives you the options of customizing words, templates, and commands to edit, format, and share your texts on your mobile device.
So, whether you want to create documents, fill out reports and forms, or work on any other paperwork on your smartphone or tablet, Dragon Anywhere has got your back. And, you can synchronize your customizations with Dragon Professional for the desktop, meaning that the dictation you do on your Android or iOS device can be completed at your desk using your computer.
Supported Systems: Android, iOS.
Pricing: Costs $15/month and $150/year. Offers 1 week trial period.
What I Liked About Dragon Anywhere
No Limits: Dragon Anywhere doesn’t impose any word or time limits—you can dictate for as long as you wish.
Synchronization: Dragon Anywhere is a mobile app but the work you do on it can be saved and be completed using other desktop Dragon programs.
Very Accurate: Not the best there is, but it is up there.
My Dragon Anywhere Verdict
I found the $150 price tag to be a bit high for a mobile speech-to-text app. I couldn’t really find a major reason to justify that, but the app is efficient and worth the hype (It could be cheaper, though).
Microsoft Word has a “dictate” feature that uses voice recognition to turn your voice into text.
This Speech-to-text capability comes in handy when you’re having issues typing with a physical keyboard. All you do is go to the “Home” tab (in your word program) and click “Dictate.” Once you do that, the button changes to red and there’s a beep. Go!
Supported Systems: Windows, Mac.
What I Liked About MS Word Speech to Text
It’s Free: When MS Word is downloaded as a separate app, not as part of the full suite of Microsoft 365 tools, it’s a free app.
Easy to use: MS word is the most popular word processing app and almost everyone has gotten used to its features, so using its speech-to-text feature is likely going to come naturally.
My MS Word Speech to Text Verdict
I love Word and for it to have a speech-to-text feature is a bonus. So, regardless of whether it’s as good as the specialized dictation tools—like dragon—or not, I still use a lot because I type using Word, like 90% of the time.
Speechnotes is a free and paid online dictation program that allows you to type by speaking.
With speechnotes, you can type with your voice on any, insert long & frequent texts with a single click, use emojis & perform many other tasks across the web.
The software, which supports a variety of languages, can also be used to order professional transcription services that cost as low as $0.1 per minute.
Supported Systems: All systems and internet browsers.
Pricing: The basic version is free and the premium costs $9/year.
What I Liked About Speechnotes
Few Ads: The tools didn’t have a lot of disruptive ads. The chrome extension even removed all the ads that roamed the software.
Fast speech recognition: The speech recognition was quick even though this app is web-based.
Easy to use and versatile on the web: The software doesn’t have a lot of buttons and works on any website and export to Google Drive
My Speechnotes Verdict
Apart from Google Docs Voice Typing, Speechnotes is the simplest online dictation tool that I have ever used. Plus, its premium plan is fairly priced, costing less than a dollar per month. It’s almost free.
This is the inbuilt free dictation software for every Mac that allows you to dictate documents. The Apple dictation feature, which is powered by Siri, is activated by pressing the microphone icon on the stock keyboard or by going to ‘Dictation in System Preferences (System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation).
The Apple Dictation feature requires the internet to work and allows you to format and edit your text using preset commands or custom ones created by you.
Supported Systems: Mac, iOS
What I Liked About Apple Dictation
It’s Free: Another free dictation tool. You’ve got nothing to lose.
Various Uses: You can use Apple Dictation to create emails, type documents, surf the web, play music, and do other tasks on your Mac.
Multi-lingual support: The Apple Dictation software’s enhanced mode supports 20 languages, while Apple’s default Dictation supports 31 languages including Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, and German, among others.
My Apple Dictation Verdict
It’s free and supports a lot of languages, what more can we ask for? You have nothing to lose when you use this tool, so give it a try.
Made by Google, the Gboard software is compatible with both Android and iOS systems. And, conveniently for us, the Gboard app comes with a dictation feature.
This is a versatile mobile app and can be used for creating emails, browsing, or writing documents. All you need to do is tap the microphone icon on the top right corner of the Gboard keyboard and start dictating. Once you start using the app, you realize that not only is it fast, but it’s also pretty accurate.
Supported Systems: Android, iOS.
What I Liked About the Gboard Dictation Feature
Supported languages: Gboard supports 47 languages and various dialects of some of those languages. The list of supported languages includes Afrikaans, Arabic, Belarusian, Dutch, English, Hausa, Zulu, and Swahili.
Free: It’s available for free.
High Accuracy: Last time I used the Gboard dictation feature the error count was very low. My educated guess—for the accuracy rates—is about 90+.
My Gboard Verdict
It’s fast, works just great for dictating texts, emails, and other short texts. It’s a great dictation tool to have on your phone.
Windows 10 Speech Recognition
Microsoft has been improving the Windows speech recognition feature—which first came with Windows Vista. Unlike the Google Voice Typing tool, the Windows Speech Recognition feature is locally based and works offline.
Supported Systems: Windows
What I Liked About the Windows 10 Recognition
Hands-Off Control: The speech-to-text feature can also be used to explore websites, manage the desktop interface, or dictate text while filling out electronic forms. It also comes in handy for performing keyboard shortcuts, controlling the mouse cursor, and creating macros.
Intelligent adaptation: The more you use the Windows Speech Recognition, the better it becomes. The tool adapts to your grammar and voice to improve its accuracy.
Multilingual Support: Windows’ dictation software supports various languages and their dialects. It also supports terminology and phonetics used by specialists, i.e., engineers.
My Windows 10 Recognition Verdict
Windows 10 speech recognition is a free and easy-to-use feature that acts as a dictation tool and helps you manage other tasks using voice commands.
Guide to the Best Dictation Software In 2021
Things to Consider When Choosing Dictation Software in 2021
“Money isn’t everything!” Hmm… not in this case, bud.
Dictation tools are very convenient tools, but it’s not like they’re going to be doing all the work on their own you going to—most of the time—speak into a mic. Plus, they are going to make a bunch of mistakes that you’re going to correct.
So, don’t overpay for them.
Most of the free alternatives do quite an excellent job, and some go toe to toe with the expensive ones.
Number of Languages
A good dictation app supports multiple languages and specific dialects of those languages. Having a voice dictation software that only supports dictation in English makes it obsolete for people who can’t read and write English.
Most dictation apps support multiple languages and some even support as many as 100+ languages.
The main reason for using dictation software is to help you type, but if it makes a lot of mistakes, you’re going to have to do a lot of corrections.
That means you’re going to be typing more than you intended. What’s the use of the dictation software then?
You need dictation apps that are very accurate to lessen the editing workload after the dictation.
Some dictation apps are made for PC, others for Mac, and others are made for iOS/Android. The best apps are those that are cross-platform and have a syncing feature that lets you save work from one device and work on the saved work on another device.
Tips for Using Voice Recognition Software
Dictation programs will type a couple of incorrect things, that’s a given. But sometimes, it’ll be because you’re not doing everything correctly. To get the best out of dictation software, follow some of these tips.
1. Check the Mic
You have to make sure that your microphone is working properly and always place it close to your mouth. The quality of the microphone must also be prioritized to give the software the best input.
You also have to make sure that there’s as little background noise as possible, adjust the volume when necessary, and speak as clearly as you can.
2. Speak naturally
Dictation apps are designed to learn your voice and speech patterns over time. The best you can do is be as clear as you can be and also maintain consistency where you see the app recording accurate words.
3. Know the commands
Every dictation app comes with its commands, it’s efficient to learn a few important commands. For example, simple commands such as “new line” which are used to enter a line break are time-saving and help you see the starting and ending points of paragraphs when you start editing.
4. Speak within the time limits
Some of the dictation apps have a time limit and you have to make sure you don’t go beyond these limits. Most apps can listen for as long as 30 to 45 seconds.
How Dictation Software Helps with Productivity
Dictation software can help you increase productivity by offering several benefits, including the following:
Using dictation is faster than typing using a keyboard. Using dictation software, one can type at a rate of 120 wpm. This is a fast rate considering that most people can barely achieve 60 wpm. And, it doesn’t matter how fast it is, it never gets tired.
It’s faster than typing, which means it’s going to save you some time. You become efficient when you reduce the amount of time spent on writing and free up time for other tasks.
Since you don’t have your hands full when you dictate, you’re able to multitask. You can use your hands to do other important stuff alongside typing with your voice.
Just like people, dictation apps aren’t perfect. But… They are useful and will save you a lot of time and increase your level of productivity.
If you usually have your hands full (literally), dictation software will take a lot of the load that has to deal with typing.
You don’t have to start with the paid tools; you can start with their alternatives or check those with free trial periods and see if typing using dictation is for you.