I have decided to undertake a series of posts regarding apps, software programs, devices, and workflows that I use and that I find really helpful and fabulous–or even just useful in small ways, and which facilitate my projects.
I begin with Dragon dictation, a software app that can be downloaded for free, onto your iPhone or iPad, and allows you to dictate notes or thoughts or any other such verbal rantings and ramblings into your phone or iPad.
One of the strengths of this app is that it’s reasonably accurate (it transcribed “tsarists” as “guitarists” at one point, but that’s somewhat understandable) It’s fairly stable. It is also really helpful if you’re like me, in that you are sometimes stuck with a blank page and an equally blank mind and need to get stuff written. With Dragon dictation, tapping “record” and starting to talk about what you’re wanting to work on, literally fills the pages and can sometimes break that block and get the ideas flowing. As such, it can be a key first step when deadlines are looming and inspiration is scarce.
One of the other things that I really like about it is that it allows you to explore a different idiom. It’s really striking, once you see what you’ve dictated, written on the page, how different your spoken idiom can be to your written way of expressing yourself. It’s a fascinating exercise in itself, but also a useful way to switch things up a little.
The iPhone version is fairly basic, featuring a dictation interface that then transcribes it over the Internet. If you navigate away from the app by pressing the home screen, without first copying, you will lose your dictation. Sometimes, the previous dictation remains intact if you just swap apps rather an navigating away, but it’s best to copy your content every time navigate out of the app. On the iPad, there is no such difficulty. You can save multiple dictations as notes, edit the dictations within the app (this one feature is also an option on the iPhone) and undo the last dictation or delete the entire note (with the iPhone app, you have to press the home button and then return to the app in order to clear the previous dictation).
Some of the problems: the program can be a little bit unstable. For instance, with the first verbal draft that I made of this post, I was editing it with a little pop-up keyboard within the app. I went to switch orientations, in order to activate wider keyboard, and the app crashed. I lost the draft, because it hadn’t saved automatically.
To be fair however, it hadn’t taken me all that long to dictate the first draft. As well, I think the second draft is a lot clearer. It is better structured and better organized–so possibly the loss was for the best. But still, knowing there is that instability means that I can take precautionary measures next time. Continue reading