Will Google Voice typing slay the Dragon


A decade ago, when I started using Google products, the company surprised me frequently.  It started with an excellent search engine, and then came Gmail with its incredible space and storage, and every new product by Google had something amazing about it.   That kind of amazement about its products stopped a few years ago, with Google producing marginal improvements for the most part. That changed for me today when I first experienced the improved Google voice typing.

I was able to type this document with reasonable speed and accuracy, which is quite incredible for voice transcription.   I have been  an avid user of text to speech for many years now, and I have purchased every new edition of Dragon Naturally Speaking / Dragon dictate over last few years. While that software worked well for me, it required training, and it worked well only when I used a good microphone, and when my throat was clear.   Unlike with Dragon, I was amazed when I was able to get tremendous accuracy with Google voice typing, even when my voice  was somewhat croaky.   It made a lot fewer mistakes than Dragon dictate 4, or any other Dragon software I had used in the past ( both on Windows and on Mac).   incredibly, I was able to do that without any training.

If that were not enough, it gave me the option to type in Hindi,  which I tried with fantastic results.  That is no mean feat considering that I speak Hindi with a distinct South Indian accent, that does not many sounds used in Hindi.  That is something I cannot expect with Dragon dictate or Naturally Speaking.  Incredibly, Google voice typing is available for free.

As things stand, Google Voice  typing is not flawless. I did not have much luck with punctuation, and  it did not do a few things like capitalising a new sentence. It does not have extensive options for editing, which  Dragon does.   In any case, I very rarely correct sentences using Text To Speech, and so I am not disappointed with the lack of such options in Google voice typing.

With such improvement in the quality of text to speech made available by Google, I wonder if Dragon Naturally Speaking with its huge price tag for purchasing and upgrading  will lose a lot of market share.

While Nuance products have served me quite well over the years, I am excited about this new possibility, and I look forward to major improvements to Google voice typing in the months to come.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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