A new version of the popular Dragon voice-recognition software is out. Nuance, its maker, said that Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 for Windows PCs has enhancements for use with Gmail and Hotmail, and now offers an app for use with Android devices. This is the first new version since mid-2010.
Peter Mahoney, senior vice president and general manager at Dragon, said in a statement that the new version is "a remarkable leap forward in voice recognition technology." He added that, with the increased accuracy, speed and over 100 new features and enhancements, "the technology simply disappears and your ideas flow onto the screen in front of you."
Microphone App for Android
One of 12's new capabilities is that the Dragon Remote Microphone App is now available for Android, so that a compatible Android-based phone can become a wireless microphone for Dragon for PC. Version 12 continues support for Dragon Remote Microphone App for iOS, and both allow the phone to be used over a Wi-Fi network.
The company said that there is a 20 percent improvement in accuracy in version 12. A new interactive tutorial is available to provide exercises for dictating, editing, and formatting.
The new release also features Smart Format Rules, a new technology that Nuance said adapts to the way users prefer to format their text. The technology automatically notices word, phrase and format corrections, such as abbreviations or how numbers are written, so that dictated documents reflect a user's preferences.
The enhancement with Web-based Gmail and Hotmail provides Full Text Control and commands for frequently used functions. It requires IE 9, Mozilla Firefox 12+, or Google Chrome 16+.
End-Run Around Siri?
There's also a faster word correction, and more suggested alternate word choices on the correction list. Additionally, the new Dragon will remind users to update their vocabulary list in the app, based on documents or e-mails the user chooses.
The new Dragon also includes enhanced support for wideband 16 kHz Bluetooth wireless headset microphones for increased accuracy, which eliminates the need for Bluetooth users to do an initial voice training.
We asked Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, if the new Dragon offered anything particularly interesting.
King pointed out that voice recognition agents on smartphone, such as Apple's Siri, offer intelligence as well as voice recognition and, from a smartphone, could become a competitive front-end that provides Dragon-like voice recognition -- and possibly more -- for office productivity apps.
He noted that the new Dragon Remote Microphone App for Android and iOS could be an effort by Dragon to fill that niche before Apple or Google do.
Siri has a drawback that could give Dragon a window of time. King said that, since Siri's processing is sent to Apple's data center and Apple captures the data, IBM is among those companies who feel that their confidential information could be compromised. Dragon's app has no such drawback.