Vox Populi

I was churlishly unimpressed by the iTunes "12 days" Christmas promotion this year. However whilst subsequently browsing the iTunes Store home page I did find one app that impressed me enough to blog about.

There's a store section called " Apps Starter Kit " which lists a dozen or so applications that Apple are promoting as "must have" installs for new iOS users. I installed a handful of these to my iPhone 3GS, but the one that has most impressed me so far is the iOS edition of DragonDictate .

It's a "split brain" app, by which I mean it uses "the cloud" to perform the text-to-speech conversion. So far I have been quite impressed with the accuracy of the process, in fact I have created this blog post by dictating while walking the dog, with just a little editing afterwards for tidy up and to add hyperlinks. I suppose it is a little like a poor man's edition of Siri, minus the pretend A.I. and the search and reminders integration.

You can get text by dictating into a text box within the application and there is a quick menu of options that allow you to create an SMS or an e-mail or copy the text to the system clipboard easily for use in other applications. This collaboration isn't too clunky and although dictating text into your phone is a little stilted it doesn't seem to be significantly less effective than my relatively crappy typing on the iPhone on-screen keyboard.

The app was free, presumably it's intended as a promotional device to introduce users to the Dragon family of software applications. Obviously there are some privacy concerns raised by having the voice processing performed on a remote server, but the terms and conditions include a privacy policy which guarantees to preserve your anonymity and keep your data private. The application did even prompted me to ask if I wanted all of my contact names uploaded to the remote service for greater the use of name recognition, and took pains to explain that this would only include name fields from my contacts database and no other personally identifying information or contact details.

I am not sure I would make a habit of using it for writing long articles or even blog posts like this but I think it could prove to be quite useful for such purposes as short e-mail replies or even sending SMS messages in situations where it's inconvenient to type.


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