Dragon Dictate for Mac: Closest to perfection…with plenty of room for improvement

In Mr. Moore’s article, “Dragon Dictate 2.0.2 ‘a New High Water Mark in Mac Speech Recognition,” he discusses a number of the features available in Dragon Dictate for Mac and offers his rating:

Rating Dragon Dictate presents a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, it’s the closest to perfection in Mac dictation software anyone has yet achieved. On the other hand, there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially in making getting up to speed on its more advanced features more intuitive and user-friendly.”

Two things jumped at me–first, I had said almost the same thing to a customer on the phone an hour earlier.  Second, here we have a software program designed for the Mac, touted as the most user-friendly computer today…and yet, Mr. Moore specifically asks that the advanced features be made more “user-friendly.”  After all this time of having our Mac users tell us that the primary reason they use Macs is because they are more user-friendly, it is hard to imagine that a software program for a user-friendly Mac could be anything less than user-friendly. 

Or, maybe the phrase “user-friendly” is simply a euphemism for:

 “I can figure out how to use this tool effectively without training or support just like I learned to play Mozart on the piano delivered to my home this morning.” 

…but I digress…and chuckle.

For the customer I spoke to this morning, and to those who peek at our blog from time to time, this issue of choosing a Mac or a PC as it relates to voice recognition is actually not our issue…it’s not even our battle.  At CHESS, we believe that computers should support the software the person uses.  People need to determine the software they will use before purchasing any hardware.  In other words, form follows function.  Find the software tools that perform the functions you need most effectively;  then, determine which “form” of computer is needed–a PC or Mac.

Oh yeah, and then realize that the real cost of your purchase is your time spent learning to use those tools–and this cost can be reduced through choosing the right learning solutions.

Back to the issue of voice recognition–for Mac or PC.  We’ve been waiting just as long as our Mac friends for a software tool as powerful as the PC-based Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional.  However, we will not be buying Mac computers for our personal use until there IS a software program that keeps up with our PC versions available today. 

Frankly, we’d like to see the Mac version do everything the PC versions can do now and add a few more tricks unique to the Mac’s software offerings–especially when justifying the higher cost of Mac ownership.

With that said, our current Dragon Dictate for Mac customers have the following issues that we’d like to add to Mr. Moore’s comments in the hope of having a much better version of Dragon Dictate for Mac in the VERY near future. 

1. Please change the name.  The name “Dragon Dictate for Mac” is confusing for people who know the history of Dragon products.  We don’t know what was wrong with “MacSpeech Dictate.”  Renaming MacSpeech Dictate to Dragon Dictate for Mac, which is ridiculously close to the “DragonDictate” name used to describe the discrete speech, PC-based product retired in the mid 90s, is at best, unimaginative, at worst–confusing. 

We get that using the word “Dragon” helps align the newest family member with the “time-tested” tools–so why not “Dragon MacSpeech,” or just “Dragon for Mac?”  

Since we are partners providing training/support for both, we don’t believe it’s a good plan to spend the first few conversations with people explaining that “no, it doesn’t do that…or no, it can’t do this…especially from our customers already using the PC version–a few doing so who’d prefer to use a Mac…and like us…have been waiting patiently.

2.  Please improve the functionality.  The functionality issues may be due in large part to how the operating system of Mac computers differs from that of PCs.  There’s probably a 73-page paper David, the computer demigod for CHESS, could write on this one topic. 

As an example, for the Mac–you should not violate the “Golden Rule” or “break the magic.” It’s not a good idea to violate this rule under any condition–Macs can “freeze” too–and for Mac users–this may be a rude awakening.   We all know Macs perform better than PCs, right?  (Yes…you caught me…turning my microphone off to chuckle again…)   

3.  Please improve internal navigation.  Navigation within the Dragon Dictate for Mac toolbar by voice–is not completely hands free.  So, people need to understand that if a “hands-free” software tool is needed–the PC version is needed.

4.  Please reduce editing steps or improve the editing process altogether.  Customers have an extra step before editing existing documents.  For Mac, you have to “cache” the document–in essence making Dragon Dictate for Mac “aware” of the existing text before using what the Dragon NaturallySpeaking (PC) users depend on–the “Select and Say”® function. 

5.  Please improve Internet navigation.  Internet navigation in Dragon Dictate for Mac–even if you’re using Safari–feels like stepping back in time to the DOS black screen with amber print.  It is far from effortless. 

If you’re using Mozilla or other browsers–no love.   

Having to remember the phrases, jump to this (with the link highlighted), Move to Previous Link, Move to Next Link–very laborious.  I’d rather just read the links as written…and even better…I like just reading the first few words of a link to just “go there’ automatically.

6.  Please add built-in commands for more programs–especially programs used extensively in business.  Dragon Dictate for Mac has far fewer built-in commands than its PC-based family members.  Perhaps, this is what Mr. Moore was referring to in his comment, “up to speed on its more advanced features.” 

In the category of application based commands, it starts with commands for: Dragon Dictate, Finder, TextEdit, Safari, Mail, iChat and iCal. While some commands transfer/work with other applications, the most notable heavy hitter missing–as far as our customers in Ohio are concerned–Microsoft Word.

Put simply, Dragon Dictate for Mac requires the use…careful use…of the mouse and keyboard.  It is not, yet, a totally hands-free software tool. 

While we’re asking for improvements, please keep in mind that in terms of development–it is the best it’s ever been.

For those sticking around to read this far–yes, you’ve gone way past a “peek”–remember that our firm, CHESS, provides training and support on voice recognition tools.  We don’t have a preference.  We prefer to have customers choose the right software tools (voice recognition, business software, photo editing, etc.) to suit their needs–then determine which computer is needed.

However, for the people who call or e-mail us expecting that we’ll say, yes, the “Mac-based” product can do what Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional v.11 can do, we say, “yes, Dragon Dictate 2.x for Mac (which we refer to in our office as the “DragonMac”) is the best Mac dictation product available at this point in time AND it has the best chance of further development so it also includes the tools and functionality of the PC version, Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional.”

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About Elicia

An instructional designer for work and mixed-media designer for fun!

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