Info-tech

Dictation app for iPhone keeps it quick and private

Mala Bhargava | Updated on November 09, 2019 Published on November 09, 2019

Representative image   -  Reuters

A new dictation app, simply called Dictation, for the iPhone or iPad brings in features users have wanted ever since voice recognition was born. You can get it as long as your device is updated to iOS 13.2 and what’s so special about it is that it doesn’t send your voice off to a server anywhere but keeps it on your device where it proceeds to transcribe it — in real time.

If you’re sceptical, go ahead and set the device to Airplane Mode cutting off all connectivity and watch as the recording and transcription takes place despite the absence of the internet. This is an amazingly welcome feature considering users have always been worried about the privacy of their recorded information.

Because the recording and transcription takes place on-device, it is entirely real time. As you speak into the microscope you can see your words appearing in text. When you’re done, you can edit the text right in the app, a task made easy by the fact that you can press Play and tap whatever word you want to edit and go straight to that point in the voice recording to hear it and edit it. When the text is all neatened up, you can export it elsewhere.

When you download Dictation you sign up for a free one-week trial. If you think you’ll use the app, you’ll need to subscribe to it and pay Rs 1,649 a year. Competing apps worth their salt also work on subscription typically though they allow for some basic functionality free. Worthwhile if your work involves a lot of transcribing and not if you’re just going to let it languish on your device. For those who think they’ll only occasionally use dictation and transcription, there are other methods including ones built into keyboard apps and the operating system but all of them involve sending the data to a server for transcription.

The app first seems to give you an error message to tell you the language is not found. There should be a more elegant way of prompting you to set the language of choice. There are some 13 of them to choose from including English-India. Once this is done, there’s not much else to do but press the big round red button and start speaking. If you pause naturally between sentences, the transcription will include a full-stop but you can also speak out some basic punctuation such as a comma and exclamation mark or question mark.

There’s no separate pause button to stop for a moment but you press the red record button again and the recording will pause and give you three options: to continue, save or delete. When you playback, you have a set of basic but helpful tools — there’s one for slowing the speed, two buttons for skipping forwards and back by 15 seconds, and regular play/pause. The interface is basic and simple. All your files sit on one side and you can search through the lot of your recordings by keyword.

The instantaneous, accurate and private transcription is something that will appeal to users whose jobs involve painfully tedious transcription.

Published on November 09, 2019
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