Nuance Releases Dragon Naturally Speaking for Mac

Today, Nuance Communications released Dragon Dictate for Mac version 2.0, its first major desktop speech application for Apple’s Mac computers since its acquisition of MacSpeech in February. MacSpeech had its own product, called Dictate, which was based on the Dragon product line.

The new version leverages the engine from Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 for the PC and improves on MacSpeech Dictate 1.5, making it easier than ever to create documents and email, search the Web, navigate the Mac desktop, and interact with popular Mac applications, all by voice.  Dictate 2.0 offers a more streamlined set-up, revamped Mac user interface, and dynamic new voice commands for dictation, editing, navigation and proofreading. Dragon Dictate for Mac also learns better than any previous version of Dictate, responds faster to spoken commands, and supports Dragon Voice Shortcuts for searching the Web, email and Mac desktop by voice.

“Recognizing the important opportunity within the Mac community, we set out earlier this year to bring Dragon to the Mac, working closely with our experts from the MacSpeech team, and drawing on our history and proven success with Dragon,” said Peter Mahoney, senior vice president and general manager for the Dragon product line at Nuance. “We’ve maintained the elements of Dictate that are most important to our Mac customers, such as the native Mac interface, and integrated many features of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 to bring improved accuracy as well as smarter command and control capabilities to this discerning audience of new Dragon customers.”

Mahonysays customers who also use MacSpeech Dictate 1.5 can use both products. “What we’ve done is we’ve focused on  making  [the Mac Dragon 2.0 software] consistent with Dragon, but still  making it consistent with  the way the MacSpeech Dictate product worked. We’re not eliminating commands, in general we’re adding commands if people want to go back and forth. We have a lot of customers who use both products: They may use a Windows desktop at the office and a Mac at home, or they have multiple computers—especially for those people, its really important to try to get some command consistency.”

The new Dragon software for Mac will allow users to search the Web, create documents, navigate the Mac’s specific applications, such as Word for Mac, mail text edit, ichat, keynote, etc.

Jay Gonzales, product marketing manager for Mac products, says the theme of Dragon dictate for Mac is “simply smarter speech recognition”  and there are simpler commands and shortcuts that make the user interface (UI) more intuitive.

In other words, a user can say a number of different commands to get the system to carry out a task. For example, a user can say “make a new document” or “create a new document” and both will be recognized because of the built-in flexible command model, according to Gonzalez.

 “One of the issues you come across in  speech recognition when you have commands is memorizing them, and we’ve reduced some of that frustration for users and eased the learning curve because they have a little more flexibility,” Gonzales says.

Also unique to the Mac Dragon software is the ability users will now have to also customize commands, Gonzales points out, saying that he was able to change the volume on iTunes using voice commands through Dragon.

“We’re positioning it as simply smarter speech recognition very similar to what we’ve done in the Dragon 11 family. We added, of course, the Dragon 11 engine; we added a whole new set of commands that were like the Dragon voice shortcuts that we introduced to Dragon 10 and then expanded significantly in Dragon 11. And one of the things that we focused on in Dragon 11 was usability, and we’re really focused on user success.”

While the company says Dragon Dictate is able to learn better, the software doesn’t have the ability to correct directly in the text box as the PC version does. However, Gonzales points out that a user only has to change the text in the speech recognition window that appears beside the main text box. “It’s going to learn from that automatically. There is an extra step; you can’t do it in the  text editor itself, but it has the same learning capabilities as Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I guess you can say its one step behind on the Mac, but the other commands that you would use...would work as well, and those are shortened-up commands to make it easier to get to the recognition training step on the Mac.”

Like the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 for PC, the Mac software also has a choice of dialects for people who have regional accents. 

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