Voice to text on the iPhone 4

I have now had my iPhone 4 for a week and I’m pleased with the upgrade.

My previous iPhone 3G had lost its WiFi connection so I’m thrilled to back in touch with the world.  I don’t like the new shape as much but I love the battery life, the two-way camera, the LED flash and the compass.  The same cannot be said of the in-built voice commands.  How does “phone” sound like “Ian”?  Why did ”Call Frances” get it to play a song I didn’t even recognise by the Hollies?  Fortunately it has a 100% record on the word “Stop” which prevented a series of nuisance calls.

So I’ve used the change to refresh my apps, and for voice recognition Dragon Dictation (free) is just brilliant.  I have an old and expensive PC copy of DD and no matter how much I trained it,  it just made stuff up.  But now the iPhone version seems to understand every word I say and we chat like old friends.  It still doesn’t allow hands-free operation because once your text is delivered (the recorded sound goes to the DD server, is translated and the text sent back to your handset) you still have to select its destination.

I typed the following “Can Dragon Dictation really speed up the whole process of sending a text?” and sent it as a text.  It took me 32 to 40  seconds to type on the iPhone (I got faster and sometimes used the landscape keyboard).  Then I did the same thing using DD to put the text in.  This generally took from 20 seconds (with one mistake) to 32 seconds.  However I did this 8 times and on one occasion the service was unavailable and on another it took over 45 seconds.  So it is quicker, but not always.

Does that make it good?  Absolutely!  I can walk (in a quiet place) and still prepare a text or a tweet, and I can carry on making coffee and still reply to an incoming message.

I haven’t tried Dragon Search yet, but the accuracy of DD’s voice recognition means that we are at last moving to a new era for text content generation.  It actually works.  It won’t take long before this technology is better integrated into the overall functioning of the iPhone.  I may even reconsider my long-standing desire for a bluetooth keyboard.

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