15 December 2009

Lunchtime Post: Fire breath

While I don't intend to write about apps very often here, occasionally there is one I discover that makes my inner-nerd pump up the jams and do a little dance.  One week ago today, I had a moment like that.

Last Tuesday, Nuance Communications released what I believe is the very first speech-to-text translation app on the iPhone - Dragon Dictation.  I've been looking for a few months for a solution like this, and was pleased to finally see it appear.  The best part: right now, it's free.

Nuance is responsible for the "Dragon Naturally Speaking" program, which David Pogue wrote about a while ago (saying the software was one of the reasons he's so productive).  The basic idea is that humans can speak much more quickly than we are able to type; why not save a step and automatically transcribe that speech?  Thankfully, technology has caught up with our ambitions and phrases like "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" aren't transcribed to "sup or cauliflower is stick ex pee all atrocious" (and yes, I did try it).

Frankly, I was a bit surprised someone hadn't already created something like this for long-form.  Sure, there are apps like ReQall, but those are for simple task / appointment voice notes.  The great thing about the Dragon Dictation app is the ability to create longer, nearly instantly transcribed memos.

There are many times when I'm mobile without access to a keyboard computer.  Most often I record a voice memo and type it out later, and there's nothing more frustrating than doing something one way when you KNOW there is an easier one.  I'm doing my praise-the-Lord dance that I don't have to repeat this.

On a side note, it's nice to see quality apps starting to appear.  My frustration with the App Store thus far is the plethora of completely useless apps (kind of reminds me of all the crapware that used to come with Dell computers; the only irony is that iPhone users CHOOSE to download these).  This is no more apparent than in the 'free' section.  Unfortunately, those are the most downloaded; thus, finding useful free or inexpensive apps is time-consuming and anger-inducing.

Any suggestions for filtering out good apps?  What have you all found useful?

Edit: Just found some interesting tips from Just Another iPhone blog; they provide most of the punctuation shortcuts for the app.

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