Voice & Speech Dictation Services
AI has brought with it many advances in speech recognition and it is often tempting to use speech dictation software to translate speech dictation to text to make written copies of voice dictation. However, there are many drawbacks to using technology to dictate voice to text and we regularly find that speech conversion apps simply do not compare to our experienced and talented professional transcribers.
Voice & Speech Dictation
If you want to dictate speech to text, your absolute best bet is to rely on a human transcriptionist who has the skill to differentiate between the voices of multiple speakers, can recognise nuance in conversation and apply the proper grammatical and linguistic rules to your voice dictation.
Dictation is easy and fast. You can dictate your thoughts and work rather than writing it down. It will save you so much time meaning you can carry out other tasks in the time saved.
One of the many great things about having a smartphone is the ability to take notes. You have your smartphone on you at practically all times. That makes it a prime spot to put your moments of inspiration.
Transcribing takes a professional about 4 times the length of the tape to produce. It will take a non professional much longer so why not send your dictation to Fingertips for typing. More time saved and more time to carry out chargeable work.
Here are some of the most popular dictation systems on the market:
Black Note (Android)
BlackNote is a simple, minimal note taking app. It works like most note apps with a host of standard features like organization, the ability to take list notes, widget options, and stuff like that. However, this one packages all of it up in a sleek, easy-to-read UI. You can also search notes, favorite notes for easier recall later, and lock the app to keep prying eyes away. The free version contains ads and the $2.99 in-app purchase removes them. This is a solid overall note taker.
Evernote is one of the most powerful note taking apps there is. It comes jam packed with features. That includes the ability to take a variety of notes. Additionally, you can sync between all of your devices, Evernote is one of the cleanest, most of polished note-taking apps. It’s also a huge name in this space. The free version used to be a lot better, but it’s still fairly functional. The subscription versions add some more powerful stuff like AI suggestions, presentation features, more cloud features, and more collaboration features. It’s definitely among the best if you don’t mind the prices.
LectureNotes was one of the first really good note taking apps for students and academics. It was one of the earliest apps to include stylus support and continues to be one of the best with that feature now. There is support for OneNote and Evernote along with PDF support, audio and video recording capabilities (for recording lectures or meetings), and a lot more. It employs an open layout that’s great for writing notes or typing them if needed. There are enough tools there for almost any college student or anyone else who needs to take detailed notes. We recommend checking out the free trial before buying it. It’s not great for general use, but it’s definitely great for academia.
Microsoft One Note
Microsoft’s OneNote is Microsoft’s foray into the note taking apps genre. It’s integrated into OneDrive similar to how Google Keep is integrated into Google Drive. The app has a bunch of features including organization features, cross-platform support, widgets, Android Wear support, collaboration features, and support for voice, text, and photo additions to notes. It’s fairly powerful and a must-have application if you use other Microsoft apps already. It’s also compatible with Microsoft Office products and Office 365. We highly recommend using it if you use those other services.
Braina is speech recognition software which is built not just for dictation, but also as an all-round digital assistant to help you achieve various tasks on your PC. It supports dictation to third-party software in not just English but almost 90 different languages, with impressive voice recognition chops.
Beyond that, it’s a virtual assistant that can be instructed to set alarms, search your PC for a file, or search the internet, play an MP3 file, read an ebook aloud, plus you can implement various custom commands.
The Windows program also has a companion Android app which can remotely control your PC, and use the local Wi-Fi network to deliver commands to your computer, so you can spark up a music playlist, for example, wherever you happen to be in the house. Nifty.
There’s a free version of Braina which comes with limited functionality, but includes all the basic PC commands, along with a 7-day trial of the speech recognition which allows you to test out its powers for yourself before you commit to a subscription. Yes, this is another subscription-only product with no option to purchase for a one-off fee. Also note that you need to be online and have Google’s Chrome browser installed for speech recognition functionality to work.
Dragon Anywhere is the mobile product for Android and iOS devices, however this is no ‘lite’ app, but rather offers fully-formed dictation capabilities powered via the cloud.
So essentially you get the same excellent speech recognition as seen on the desktop software – the only meaningful difference we noticed was a very slight delay in our spoken words appearing on the screen (doubtless due to processing in the cloud). However, note that the app was still responsive enough overall.
It also boasts support for boilerplate chunks of text which can be set up and inserted into a document with a simple command, and these, along with custom vocabularies, are synced across the mobile app and desktop Dragon software. Furthermore, you can share documents across devices via Evernote or cloud services (such as Dropbox).
Amazon Transcribe is as big cloud-based automatic speech recognition platform developed specifically to convert audio to text for apps. It especially aims to provide a more accurate and comprehensive service than traditional providers, such as being able to cope with low-fi and noisy recordings, such as you might get in a contact centre.
Amazon Transcribe uses a deep learning process that automatically adds punctuation and formatting, as well as process with a secure livestream or otherwise transcribe speech to text with batch processing.
As well as offering time stamping for individual words for easy search, it can also identify different speaks and different channels and annotate documents accordingly to account for this.
There are also some nice features for editing and managing transcribed texts, such as vocabulary filtering and replacement words which can be used to keep product names consistent and therefore any following transcription easier to analyze.
Overall, Amazon Transcribe is one of the most powerful platforms out there, though it’s aimed more for the business and enterprise user rather than the individual.
Speechmatics offers a machine learning solution to converting speech to text, with its automatic speech recognition solution available to use on existing audio and video files as well as for live use.
Unlike some automated transcription software which can struggle with accents or charge more for them, Speechmatics advertises itself as being able to support all major British accents, regardless of nationality. That way it aims to cope with not just different American and British English accents, but also South African and Jamaican accents.
Speechmatics offers a wider number of speech to text transcription uses than many other providers. Examples include taking call center phone recordings and converting them into searchable text or Word documents. The software also works with video and other media for captioning as well as using keyword triggers for management.
Overall, Speechmatics aims to offer a more flexible and comprehensive speech to text service than a lot of other providers, and the use of automation should keep them price competitive.
If you already have an Android mobile device, then if it’s not already installed then download Google Keyboard from the Google Play store and you’ll have an instant text-to-speech app. Although it’s primarily designed as a keyboard for physical input, it also has a speech input option which is directly available. And because all the power of Google’s hardware is behind it, it’s a powerful and responsive tool.
If that’s not enough then there are additional features. Aside from physical input ones such as swiping, you can also trigger images in your text using voice commands. Additionally, it can also work with Google Translate, and is advertised as providing support for over 60 languages.
Even though Google Keyboard isn’t a dedicated transcription tool, as there are no shortcut commands or text editing directly integrated, it does everything you need from a basic transcription tool. And as it’s a keyboard, it means should be able to work with any software you can run on your Android smartphone, so you can text edit, save, and export using that. Even better, it’s free and there are no adverts to get in the way of you using it.
Google Speech notes
Speechnotes is yet another easy to use dictation app. A useful touch here is that you don’t need to create an account or anything like that; you just open up the app and press on the microphone icon, and you’re off.
The app is powered by Google voice recognition tech. When you’re recording a note, you can easily dictate punctuation marks through voice commands, or by using the built-in punctuation keyboard.
When it comes to customizing notes, you can access a plethora of fonts and text sizes. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store, but you can make in-app purchases to access premium features (there’s also a browser version for Chrome).
Google Keep is a note-taking service developed by Google. Launched on March 20, 2013, Google Keep is available on the web, and has mobile apps for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems. Keep offers a variety of tools for taking notes, including text, lists, images, and audio
Windows 10 Speech Recognition (Windows)
If you don’t want to pay for speech recognition software, and you’re running Microsoft’s latest desktop OS, then you might be pleased to hear that Windows 10 actually has some very solid voice recognition abilities built right into the operating system.
Windows Speech Recognition, as it’s imaginatively named – and note that this is something different to Cortana, which offers basic commands and assistant capabilities – lets you not only execute commands via voice control, but also offers the ability to dictate into documents.
The sort of accuracy you get isn’t comparable with that offered by the likes of Dragon, but then again, you’re paying nothing to use it. It’s also possible to improve the accuracy by training the system by reading text, and giving it access to your documents to better learn your vocabulary. It’s definitely worth indulging in some training, particularly if you intend to use the voice recognition feature a fair bit.
This speech recognition capability is actually in previous versions of Windows as well, although Microsoft has honed it more with the latest OS. The company has been busy boasting about its advances in terms of voice recognition powered by deep neural networks, and Microsoft is certainly priming us to expect impressive things in the future. The likely end-goal aim is for Cortana to do everything eventually, from voice commands to taking dictation.
Turn on Windows Speech Recognition by heading to the Control Panel (search for it, or right click the Start button and select it), then click on Ease of Access, and you will see the option to ‘start speech recognition’ (you’ll also spot the option to set up a microphone here, if you haven’t already done that).
Marketed as a personal assistant for turning videos and voice memos into text files, Transcribe is a popular dictation app that’s powered by AI. It lets you make high quality transcriptions by just hitting a button.
The app can transcribe any video or voice memo automatically, while supporting over 80 languages from across the world. While you can easily create notes with Transcribe, you can also import files from services such as Dropbox.
Once you’ve transcribed a file, you can export the raw text to a word processor to edit. The app is free to download, but you’ll have to make an in-app purchase if you want to make the most of these features in the long-term. There is a trial available, but it’s basically just 15 minutes of free transcription time. Transcribe is only available on iOS, though.
Fingertips can produce transcription in four ways.
Verbatim transcription: Everything recorded in the transcript is typed up. This will include erms and ers, you knows, repetitions etc. Coughing, pauses, laughter etc is put in brackets. Words are typed as said i.e. gonna, wanna and ’cause.
Intelligent verbatim transcription (without slang): The typist will use his/her common sense and eliminate erms, ers, you knows, repetitions, and other irrelevant conversation in order that the transcripts reads sensibly but with all the relevant information. Abbreviations are transferred to full grammar in order that the completed transcript reads in a good standard of English and contains material relevant to the subject matter.
Intelligent verbatim transcription (with slang): The same as above i.e erms, ers, you knows, repetitions etc left out but slang words like gonna and wanna left in.
Discourse Analysis: Either verbatim or intelligent verbatim but showing every pause, cough, laughter etc. Short pause will be shown as (.), medium pause (…) and a long pause (…..), (cough), (laughter), (loudly spoken) etc.
Don’t forget we offer a free trial for new clients, so if you want to see the difference Fingertips transcribers can make for you, contact us today.