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The Best Dictation (Voice To Text) Software Is Here (And It’s Free!)

“Voice typing…” on Google Docs

I’m a desktop kind of person who almost always prefer a computer over a phone — unless I’m away from my desk. I have already mentioned on several blog posts that I take a lot of time to create a blog post — from researching to writing to editing to formatting.

And that’s why I’m always trying to find a way to streamline my content creation process — to make it more consistent, stress-free, and efficient. Obviously, the biggest task involved in publishing a blog post is actually the writing process itself.

Once the first draft gets done, the rest happens like magic!

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Over the past several months/years, I tried several dictation or voice to text software — including the super-popular Dragon Speech Recognition Software (but I tried it several years back) — and nothing really worked for me.

Not anymore!

Meet “Voice typing…” On Google Docs

I was an active Google Docs user until few months back and then almost stopped using it. A couple of weeks back I noticed that Google introduced “Voice typing…” to Google Docs. However, it’s not supported in its iOS (on iPhone and iPad) apps, yet.

If you are an avid Android user then you probably know that Google has added speech recognition capabilities to it long time back.

In fact, if there’s a speech recognition software that has always worked for me then it’s Google. Google’s speech recognition technology — on Search, Translator, Google Now, etc — works like a charm thanks to Google’s immense knowledge of everything.

However, Google didn’t have an independent dictation software — especially for desktops — until now.

But what about Microsoft’s Cortana and the overhyped Apple’s Siri?

Of course, Cortana works. But again, it doesn’t offer a voice dictation on Windows Phone or elsewhere that works (correct me if I’m wrong!).

And then there’s Siri. Oh yeah, it works perfectly when you see its demo on an Apple Event. But it never worked for me. Sorry.

I’m pretty sure that a lot of you will now advocate for Siri or the in-built free dictation software on iOS or Mac OS X.

So, I picked an excerpt from my fantastic ten productivity tools and then turned on dictation in iOS (on iPhone) and Google Docs (on the web) at the same time.

Here are the results:

Dictation – Google vs. Apple

Note: While dictating on Google Docs, it was typing “period” or “full stop” as it is instead of inserting one. So, I edited all of them manually before copying here. Because Google’s help page for “Voice typing…” says it detects all the common punctuations like period, comma, exclamation, etc. and it did except a “period”. So maybe I missed something.

Best Dictation & Voice Recognition Software Comparison 2018

Dictation Software Comparison - Google vs. Apple

The verdict? Google is STILL the best dictation (voice to text) software on the web. And that’s not all. Google’s “Voice typing…” now works with a variety of languages and accents. Namely: Afrikaans, Amharic, Arabic, Arabic (Algeria), Arabic (Bahrain), Arabic (Egypt), Arabic (Israel), Arabic (Jordan), Arabic (Kuwait), Arabic (Lebanon), Arabic (Morocco), Arabic (Oman), Arabic (Palestine), Arabic (Qatar), Arabic (Saudi Arabia), Arabic (Tunisia), Arabic (United Arab Emirates), Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bahasa Indonesia, Basque, Bengali (Bangladesh), Bengali (India), Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Hong Kong), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (Australia), English (Canada), English (Ghana), English (India), English (Ireland), English (Kenya), English (New Zealand), English (Nigeria), English (Philippines), English (South Africa), English (Tanzania), English (UK), English (US), Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Italian (Italy), Italian (Switzerland), Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Malaysian, Marathi, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Sinhala, Spanish, Spanish (Argentina), Spanish (Bolivia), Spanish (Chile), Spanish (Colombia), Spanish (Costa Rica), Spanish (Ecuador), Spanish (El Salvador), Spanish (Spain), Spanish (US), Spanish (Guatemala), Spanish (Honduras), Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Nicaragua), Spanish (Panama), Spanish (Paraguay), Spanish (Peru), Spanish (Puerto Rico), Spanish (Uruguay), Spanish (Venezuela), Sundanese, Swahili (Kenya), Swahili (Tanzania), Swedish, Tamil (India), Tamil (Malaysia), Tamil (Singapore), Tamil (Sri Lanka), Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu (India), Urdu (Pakistan), Vietnamese, and Zulu.

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Here’s My Take: Google Docs Voice Typing vs. iOS/OS X Dictation

Google Docs “Voice typing…” is near perfect except that adding a period or a comma or any other punctuations feels odd. Well, it’s a common problem you can’t avoid in any such software applications.

And my experience with dictation on iOS and OS X was pretty terrible. Of course, it may be designed for English-speaking nations but it’s supposed to work for others as well. Maybe someday, eh?

Anyway, even if it’s able to detect your voice perfectly it’s not the best dictation software out there. You know why?

iOS/OS X dictation pauses every 40 seconds or so. So, you have to wait until it’s ready to accept the next sentence/paragraph. If you think it’s comfortable then there’s one more problem. That is, you can’t type when you are dictating.

That’s where Google Docs comes to party. When you turn on Google Docs dictation, you can actually use both your voice as well as the keyboard — at the same time.

For instance, I can dictate a sentence and then write the next sentence by myself without turn off the voice dictation. It basically means that, Google’s speech recognition software is always running in the background and it will convert any word you speak to text.

However, if you change your browser window or switch to another application then the dictation is turned off automatically and you have to turn it on again to resume automatic dictation.

That’s not all!

Google’s speech recognition technology is so smart it even attempts to correct a sentence when you are done with it. For instance, see that Apple typed “beatles” and “potatoes” when I said “paid tools”.

So, if the same error occurred in Google Docs then it might have made an attempt to correct so that the final sentence make sense.

Note: I have written this article for desktop users and that’s why I didn’t list any other speech recognition software or voice to text apps for mobile. If you are looking for an advanced speech recognition software (which is not just for dictation alone) then you can always try Dragon NaturallySpeaking or any other proprietary software. But it’s going to cost you. For instance, Dragon for Mac costs over $200 and Dragon for PC costs over $75.

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Closing Thoughts

I first realized Google’s speech recognition capability when I tried their Translator app. And I even tried to make it a dictation software. But it didn’t work as it’s just a tool which detects your voice and convert it to text — to translate into another language.

Now with Google Docs “Voice typing…”, you can enjoy Google’s speech recognition technology on the web as well — that too, in a word processor, yay!

Actually, I tried to write this blog post using “Voice typing…” but it failed and ended up taking more time than typing. No, it’s not because it didn’t detect my voice or something. But simply because I didn’t train myself to do it that way.

And I’m sure that it can be a great time saver when I (or probably you) figured out a way to make this work for you. So I will keep on trying this at times so that I can also make an attempt to write  a 1,000 word blog post in 10 minutes — like her.

Happy Dictating! 🙂

P.S. Google didn’t pay me to write this blog post. 😛

First Published: October 19, 2015; Last Updated: Saturday, February 10, 2018.