Speech Technology Magazine

 

Nuance Drops Support for Dragon Professional for Macs, Users Feel Left Behind

Nuance announced it will no longer support its Dragon dictation software for Mac, and users with disabilities are left wondering what their options are.
Posted Nov 7, 2018
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In the late 1990s when my grandparent got their first computer, my grandfather quickly bought dictation software. He was never much of a typist. It didn't work very well, and he gave up on it almost as soon as it was installed. For many people, like my grandfather, speech-to-text capabilities are just a convenience. But to many, they're a necessity—which is why Nuance's decision to stop supporting Dragon Professional for Mac has more than a few customers grumbling. For people with disabilities, dictation isn't about saving time or working while on the go. If you can't type, speech-to-text software may be the only way you can interact with a computer and the internet beyond. It may even be the only way you can do your job.

The software will continue to function for the time being, but with no updates or support, it's only a matter of time before users have to find an alternative. Mac computers have their own dictation software, but users say its inferior to Dragon. And we all know that making the switch from Mac to PC is no small thing. Once you're invested in the Mac OS—which reaches beyond the computer on your desk to the smartphone in your pocket, the watch on your wrist, and the iPad on the coffee table—it's hard to go back. So while Mac-devotees are hoping Apple will step up its dictation game, users don't think it will be that easy.

Dragon users, like Gene Cash, on The Register's forum say, “I use the Android Swype+Dragon keyboard, and the voice recognition blows anything else out of the water. It understands my (US) Southern accent, and co-workers with strong Welsh, Scottish, Australian, or Indian accents, even in a loud bar. Anything else just [fails] over 75% of the time.” Stuartnz agrees, “Yep - one of the things that quite frankly stunned me when I upgraded from 13 to 15 a couple of years ago was how quickly my DNS learned to recognise Panjbi names and Hindi words *in my Kiwi accent*. It really is the only game in town.”

In other words, people who rely on dictation software to get their work done feel like there is no viable alternative to Dragon, leaving Mac users with disabilities out in the cold. Unfortunately, Apple may be in part to blame. An unwillingness to make its entire platform available to APIs often means developers abandon the OS. It may also mean that there is no dictation alternative on the horizon for Mac users, unless Apple ups its game. 

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