Pros and cons of the Dragon Anywhere voice recognition and dictation mobile app

I’ve been blogging nonstop for about 10 years now, and over time, I’ve discovered that writing calms my nerves and satisfies my entrepreneurial soul like nothing else. I just feel like I get shit done when I write, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a 1500 word article and hitting that big blue publish button in WordPress. In contrast, my day job as a visual designer is not quite as satisfying. A typical design project can take weeks, and my short attention span just does not jive with that. It’s so hard for me to keep interest in a project that goes longer than a few days, I’ve lost count of the times that I swore I would quit my job as a designer and never push a pixel again.

With 10 blogs to write for, I write a lot. All of these blogs are mine and, and I enjoy writing each and every one of them. Having short attention span means having many interests, and I’ve always got a lot of my mind that I just need to get down on paper (or a keyboard). Usually I go in bursts – writing 1500 words today for days at a time until my mind melts and I can’t type another word. I usually take a break at that point, vowing never to write again, until the urge hits me again three weeks later and I’m back at. I wrote about this frustrating creative cycle before, and believe me – it is frustrating.

Things have been going well up until about two weeks ago. Just prior to that, I decided to crank up my production on my travel blog by posting two 3000 word posts a week. It was a lot of work, but it didn’t really feel like. I was truly enjoying it. Travel is my main passion in life so it’s not difficult for me to spew thousands of words in one sitting on the same topic, so that’s exactly what I did. Unfortunately, I paid the price.

My hands and fingers began to hurt in ways that screamed “stop!” It was not a completely new feeling to me though – I’ve experienced the same pain over the years after too much time spent in front of the computer playing games or doing the same repetitive tasks over and over again. I could usually resolve it by quitting those specific tasks altogether or simply doing them a different way. The pain always went away and it was just something I never gave serious consideration to. Only this time, the pain was lingering.

hand pain from typing

I’ve been typing too much, and my hands HURT!

For a blogger, this is a death sentence. If I can’t write I cannot produce. If I cannot produce I can’t earn. Writing is my business, my passion, my livelihood. Not being able to write really put the scare me and made me realize that I need to listen to my body and slow down if I want to stay in the game. I’m usually a very enthusiastic entrepreneur though, so slowing down is something that I cannot do very easily.

Since the pain was not going away I knew I had to do something. A quick Google search of my symptoms revealed that there was basically no treatment for what I have. The only real solution is to simply stop using the computer, which for an entrepreneur like me, just is not gonna work. I have a real desire to take care of my body though and my hands are very important to me. I’m not one of those guys that say screw it and plow on without thinking of the consequences. I knew I had a problem here and I needed to solve it.

Voice recognition software seem like the obvious solution, but having tried it a few years ago,I was not happy with the results. It was sloppy and messy, made even worse by the fact that sometimes I don’t speak all that clearly and I couldn’t find any software that fully understood everything that I was saying. The tech nerd in me knows how fast technology evolves though, so I decided to give it another try out of total desperation. I’ve got a lot of iOS devices lying around, so I picked one up and gave it a shot with the built-in voice recognition system. Actually, it wasn’t that bad. I found it to be highly accurate, much more than before, and I immediately thought that I had found my solution. But a few more minutes of playing with it made me realize that there was no easy way to fix mistakes, and since I’m far from perfect, that just was not gonna fly.

Back to Google I went, just to see what was out there in the world of voice recognition software. I kept seeing the name “Dragon” everywhere which is usually a good sign that it was the king in this realm. It even had really good reviews to so it wasn’t too hard of a decision to go ahead and download the trial. Deciding which trial to download was a bit difficult simply because there are so many options. There’s the desktop version for Mac and PC, a legal version, personal and professional, and mobile app. I decided to go with the mobile version called Dragon Anywhere simply because I did not want to be tied to my computer to use the software. I travel a lot and I need to be able to work anywhere.

I found the software to be much more simple than I imagined it would be. Upon first opening it, it presents you with a white canvas with a few simple buttons and options sprinkled about, and I found it to be very intuitive. Just press the microphone button and start talking.

Dragon Anywhere mobile app

Main screen of the Dragon Anywhere mobile app. Just press the microphone icon and start talking!

dragon anywhere app keyboard

There is also access to the full keyboard so you can edit mistakes (or simply type) without speaking.

dragon anywhere voice commands

There are a lot of great built-in voice commands. It takes a while to learn them, but once you do, you’ll never have to touch the keyboard.

It took all of 10 seconds for me to realize that this is the voice recognition software I was looking for. Not only did it understand nearly everything that I said, it allows for easy corrections of mistakes by simply saying “delete”. For a sloppy writer like me, that’s all I need to gladly pay a monthly subscription fee to save my fingers from a brutal pounding every day.

Here are the pros and cons of the Dragon Anywhere mobile iOS app

Pros

  • Highly accurate, even for a sloppy speaker like me who mumbles most of the time
  • Very simple interface without a lot of clutter
  • The ability to easily fix mistakes by simply saying “delete”
  • The more you use it the more accurate it becomes
  • It makes me take the time to speak more clearly (which is a really good thing)
  • I can continue blogging even though my hands and fingers have given up
  • I’ve discovered that blog posts tend to be longer when I speak them

Cons

  • $15 a month is kind of a high price to pay – but I do it anyway to save my fingers
  • There is a bit of a learning curve to learn all the built-in commands
  • It’s not 100% accurate (don’t set your expectations too high)

It takes quite a bit for me to use software that requires a monthly subscription fee, but I’ll happily pay the $15 for Dragon Anywhere if it means that I can continue blogging without subjecting my hands to so much abuse. My only hope is that the built in voice recognition feature in iOS will continue to get better so that I don’t have to pay a monthly fee for this kind of thing. But for now, Dragon anywhere is totally worth it and I enjoy using it every single day. It’s how I write all of my blog posts now – including this one. Isn’t technology amazing?

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