Whilst working in school recently I was inspired to see some academics using the dictation capabilities of their smart phones to allow them to quickly annotate feedback for students. The staff member was able to get feedback out to his students in a very timely manner using this approach. Obviously, it’s not an approach for everyone. Some of us need time to reflect and gather our thoughts. Sometimes we need to use rubrics. However, the work flow was far more efficient for this particular staff member.
Based on our conversations, I decided to do some research into different apps that are freely available for the iPad. Some smart devices may already have this functionality built-in, but if not, the following list may be of some use.
As a test, I spoke the following piece of text into the app. I attempted to speak in the same way for each app, but I am also aware that maybe my Teesside accent might have thrown some of the apps!
“Hello. I am testing this app for voice dictation. This string of text will last for some time to ensure that this particular app will work. I will attempt to talk in my normal voice, rather than talking slowly.”
Results: “Hello I am testing this out the voice dictation the string of text will last for some time to ensure this particular app will work I will attempt to talk to my normal voice rather than talking slowly.”
Well established in the field of dictation, Dragon offer a free dictation app. Despite a number of requests to access my iPad Contacts, this app worked very well. You press the Red Record button at the top of the page and start talking. The app will record your voice until you tell it to stop recording. It then goes away and quickly processes your text. You can then record again and the results are appended to the original text, meaning you can dictate considerably large amounts of text. The results can be edited and you can then email, copy and paste or even send to Facebook and Twitter.
There are also options to automatically detect the end of your speech should you wish.
Results: “Hello I’m testing this app for voice dictation this string of texts will last for some time to ensure that this particular apple work I will attempt to talk to my normal voice rather than talking slowly”.
The app works by tapping the large green icon in the middle of the screen. You tap again to stop recording. Once finished, you get a pop up of the translation. Should you wish, you can edit the text as appropriate. You can then send the annotation as an email or as an iMessage. Changing the language made no difference to the annotation.
Results: “Hello I am testing this out the voice dictation the string of tanks for that the sum time to ensure that this particular app will work I Wanna tend to talk my normal voice rather than talking slowly”
Probably the worst results out of all the apps tested. The app itself is easy to use – tap the microphone to start recording, tap the Stop button to finish. Results can then be shared using a variety of different techniques: sent to your Notes, emailed, sent via iMessenger and so on. However, with the particularly low quality of dictation, this is not on the top of the list. Also, the free version only allows 5 translations in a day.
Results: “Hello I’m testing this app for voice dictation the string of text will last for some time to ensure this particular app will work. I would attempt to talk with my normal voice rather than talking slowly”.
A free app powered by adverts at the bottom of the screen. It works reasonably well – you press Dictate Next button and start talking. When you stop talking, a transcription of your text will appear. You can press Dictate Next to continue the dictation process. Contents can be shared via email, copying the text via notes. The quality of the dictation was very accurate, even down to a full stop. The only downside being that the app is quite intrusive.
Alas this app crashed every time I tried to access it. This may be down to my iPad not being compatible with the app but I had no such problems with any of the other apps tested.
With the app crashing, I was unable to test it and can’t really rate it. I’ve included it in this post as the app came up from the results page in the app store.
Whilst relatively easy to use, the app either couldn’t seem to notice I was still talking or was set to only record a short period of text. There were no settings I could find to adjust this, and starting the dictation again overwrote the first piece of text. Results, such as they were, could easily be shared but the fact that the recording time seemed far too short means this app is not recommended.
Dragon Dictation and Free Dictation worked the best. Both translated the text very accurately. Free Dictation even managed to detect a new sentence. The interface of Dragon Dictation is certainly better than Free Dictation but, as they are free, why not try both and see what you think?