Like the proverbial genie in the bottle, you can ask a lot of Dragon Go! and have a pretty good chance of the app granting your wish. Dragon Go! is the latest free app from Nuance, creators of Dragon Dictate for the Mac and Dragon Dictation for iOS devices. In this latest app, Nuance has delivered what they consider the next generation of voice search, and after several days of testing I have no reason to doubt it.
Here's the deal. Speak just about anything to Dragon Go! and it will try to parse your meaning and bring up the right set of tools to complete your search. Ask for news about Libya, or news about Libya from the New York Times and the app complies. Ask for reservations for 2 at a favorite restaurant and Open Table is queried. Directions from your current location to the nearest hospital will launch Google Maps with the route. Say a product name, like JBL speakers and an Amazon page comes up with the JBL speakers Amazon sells.
It gets better. Ask it to play an artist on Pandora, and if you have the app installed it will launch and start playing the artist you asked for. Say "Play the Beatles" and if you have the Beatles on your device the music will play. You can also direct a query to a particular site. I tried "stories about Apple TV on TUAW" and it brought up a list from our website. Then a tough test. I asked to see pictures of obscure character actor Whit Bissell and the images popped up right on cue. Check our gallery. Holy Moly!
No app is perfect, and every so often Dragon Go! botched a search, but most questions I asked delivered useful answers. It may seem like the app has a bit of overlap with Siri, which is also powered by Nuance Technology. There is some, but Dragon Go! reaches deeper and takes you to the appropriate place on the web, rather than try to contain the info within the app itself.
The sources Dragon Go! is using are displayed at the top of the screen. You can change those sources manually if you want. The default search engine is Google, but Bing and Yahoo! are fine if you'd rather use them.
I found Dragon Go! an extraordinarily useful app in day to day use. I can only scratch the surface of its capabilities in this review. You must try it for yourself. I was often wishing this kind of technology was built into my iPhone at the system level, and I'll bet Nuance wishes it were too. Of course with Apple buying Siri, we may see something similar.
Dragon Go! is free, and iPhone-only at this point. According to Matt Revis, VP of Product Management at Nuance, the app is US English for now. It will come to Android sometime in the future, and also to the iPad. For all intents it replaces Dragon Search, which is not as full featured. The app will continue to function, but it won't be downloadable from the US app store. My guess is that most people will replace it with Dragon Go! anyway. I'd seriously recommend you download and give the app a test drive. It's a great iPhone demo, and I think it will work its way into your daily routine.
Share your experiences with us, and tell us what you like and what you don't like.