Best App for Transcribing Speech to Text



Dragon Dictation Screenshot

Speak your mind: The app records up to 30 seconds of dictation before it stops to send the audio to a server for transcription. The process is lightning-fast over WiFi but takes a few seconds over 3G. If you’ve still got more to say, you can continue your dictation in 30 second chunks. Privacy hawks, take note that this network-based service hangs onto your audio files as well as all the names in your contacts. (No contact info is transmitted, just names, to help the service recognize those pesky proper nouns.)


Dragon Dictation Screenshot

Tidying up: Dragon Dictation does a remarkable job of recognizing your speech, but it helps if you speak slowly and clearly. Insert punctuation marks by speaking their names (“comma,” “period,” “dash,” “new paragraph,” and so on). Tap an incorrect word in the transcription for suggested alternatives, or tap the Keyboard icon to edit the text directly. To add more dictation, place the cursor where you want to insert the text, and tap the Record icon.


Dragon Dictation Screenshot

Send it out: Because of iPhone limitations, you can’t run Dragon Dictation in the background to speak your text directly into the Mail app, for example. Instead, you have to fire up Dragon, do your thing there, and then tell the app to send the text over to Mail, to Messages, or to the clipboard for pasting into another app.

Dragon Dictation
Top Pick

Dragon Dictation

Version: 1.0.0
Website: Nuance

Keyboard, shmeeboard, who needs it? Just speak into your iPhone (sorry, iPod Touch not supported; update: the latest version supports iPod Touch, too) and Dragon transcribes your words. Speak email or SMS messages, or copy the text into another app. The app’s speech recognition is impressively accurate, and it’s ideal for dashing off quick messages of just a few sentences. However, the app doesn’t let you save, and your current session is lost if you receive a call or leave the app, disqualifying it for lengthy dictation.

Honorable Mention


Voxie Pro Recorder Screenshot

Speak Easy: Voxie lets you pause and resume recordings. During playback, skip to any part of the clip by tapping the progress bar at the bottom of the screen. File your recordings in custom categories, and email them to yourself or others. Any computer on the same WiFi network can also download the audio files via web browser. Want that in writing? Tap Actions to send your audio off for paid transcription.

Voxie Pro Recorder

Voxie Pro Recorder

Version: 2.8
Website: Bottle Rocket

Voxie is a good alternative for longer dictation sessions and improved accuracy. This capable voice-memo app hooks up to a paid transcription service handled by actual human beings, including specialists in legal and medical lingo. The turnaround for the transcription service is crazy-fast (usually just a few minutes), but it costs. Monthly subscriptions start at $5 for 250 words and 2.5 cents per additional word. More details are available at Recordings can be any length but use about 1MB of disk space per minute.

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Dragon Dictate?!?!?!
Sorry, it might be 'the best' b/c it's one of the few, but I tried it out a few times & had to delete it.

It sucked.

I'll admit, it may have been upwards of 70% correct on words -- but that's like ~ 4 typos per sentence, maybe more.

I'm sure it could be better, somehow... but it ain't. Say it like it is!

Dragon Dictation is another example of 'great in one location, not in another' category. Simply, it doesn't understand accents. As a comedy app, it's wonderful, as it gives the wildest translations of my English accent. If I fake an American accent, it's pretty accurate, but not with unusual words, which it attempts to interpret and generally fails, leaving a need for editing. But until there's an app that copes with accents, this is definitely a North American-only recommendation!

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