Nuance has announced Dragon Dictate 2.5, a free upgrade to the company's Mac voice control/input app for version 2.0 customers. The new version dramatically improves mouse and keyboard entry in Microsoft Word 2011, among other features. According to Nuance, Word 2011 is the most commonly used app for Dragon Dictate customers, so it makes sense that the company would put emphasis on adding more dictation functionality for the word processing market leader.
Earlier versions of Dictate would get confused about where the insertion point or document elements were located when users switched between voice and mouse input (except in the company's own Notepad app or in TextEdit, where Dragon supported more complex behaviors). The recommendation against mixing dictation and keyboard/mouse editing has been so ingrained in the product's DNA that Dragon refers to it informally as the Golden Rule. Meanwhile, users of the corresponding Dragon NaturallySpeaking app on the Windows platform had far fewer restrictions.
With 2.5 and Microsoft Word 2011, the Golden Rule is history; users can easily switch between voice and keyboard input at will, or between dictation and command mode within Dictate itself, all without disrupting Dictate's internal model of the document. This lends itself to a far more natural and workflow-friendly way of using Dragon; instead of having to stop and start between dictation and editing phases, just keep on going.
Dragon SVP/general manager Peter Mahoney told TUAW that there's nothing specific to announce about enhanced support for Apple's Pages or other popular Mac productivity apps, but the company is looking at other integrations. "This is the first time that we've done this [on the Mac] for a meaningful application, and there was a lot of new invention in the way we created these integration models," he said. "Some of the approach we used in Word 2011 will benefit the Windows product, too... It's certainly something that we plan to expand to other applications over time."
Version 2.5 adds the ability to dictate without distraction from the mouse and keyboard, and also adds a microphone option in the form of an iOS app -- Dragon Remote Microphone (Free) -- for those situations where you'd rather not be tied to a traditional headset, but where you do share a Wi-Fi network between your computer and your phone.
There are new capabilities for controlling how Dragon Dictate formats text, and new voice commands even allow posting to Facebook and Twitter. Even doing searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo! or with Spotlight on the Mac can be accomplished with a voice command. The microphone can now be set to automatically "sleep" after a preset amount of time so that it won't recognize speech until you specifically wake it.
For new users, a digital download Dragon Dictate 2.5 for Mac is available for $179.99 through the Nuance website; owners of the Windows NaturallySpeaking product can cross-grade for $99. Check out the slideshow below for a demonstration of some of the Word commands that are available in the upgrade.