Product Review: Dictation on the iPhone
Getting feedback on an accent is hard. People students meet in daily life will generally not want to hurt the students’ feelings, embarrass them, or potentially discourage them by telling the students that they aren’t really all that intelligible. Teachers and other experts can be better sources of information, but it is usually not an option for students to practice again and again with a teacher and use trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn’t. That is why dictation tools can be great: students can practice their speech as much as they would like without having to worry about the listener getting bored or humoring them; the dictation tool will tell them whether their speech is intelligible or not and won’t spare their feelings; and they can see a text which will show them where they went wrong. This only works, though, if the dictation tool is accurate. For this reason, I decided to test two tools that are available for taking dictation on the iPhone and iPad.
The two dictation apps that are battling it out today are Dragon Dictation, made by the Speech-to-Text giant Nuance, and Voice Dictation, made by relative upstart Appsimo. Now in terms of price, they are not that different: Dragon Dictation is free, while Voice Dictation costs the minimum $.99. In terms of ease of use, again, it is basically even, with Dragon Dictation being only slightly more user-friendly. The real question, though, is in terms of the dictation quality. Which one works best? I decided to perform a little test.
Below are two tongue twisters I read into each dictation tool. Each tongue twister was read twice in each application, with the number of errors averaged. The tongue twisters were:
She sells sea shells on the sea shore,
The shells that she sells are surely sea shells.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
|# of Errors||Sea Shells||Peter Piper|
Now this is hardly scientific, but again you can see that both applications performed with nearly the same level of accuracy, with a slight edge given to Appsimo. I can recommend both of them wholeheartedly, with a very slight edge being given to Voice Dictation in quality of dictation and a slight edge given to Dragon Dictation for price and ease of use.