- Editor's Rating
Dragon Search from Nuance Communications, Inc. is a free voice-to-text app that lets you speak search terms, and get results from Google, YouTube, and several other popular web sites.
USING DRAGON SEARCH
Currently, Dragon Search searches Google, YouTube, iTunes, Twitter Search, and Wikipedia. Dragon Search supports queries in several languages including U.S. English, U.K. English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. (A quick test in French got one out of three queries right.)
Like Dragon Dictation, Nuance’s other free iPhone app, Dragon Search feeds your audio to a Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking server on the Internet, which returns the text results to be fed into the search engines. That means this app will only work when you have Internet connectivity, but since you’re doing Internet searches, that’s not a problem.
Be sure to check the settings; in particular, you may want to reset “Detect End-of-Speech” (shown on my iPhone screen as “Detect End-of-Spe…”), which treats a pause as “Done, start processing.”
Nuance describes Dragon Search as a tool for “even when your hands are busy.” This is not completely true; you need one at least for controlling the app. You just don’t need to be doing finger-intensive text entry — although you can type text in, by tapping the search box to bring up the iPhone keyboard.
Like Dragon Dictate, you use Dragon Search by tapping the big red button in the middle of the screen to start recording, and tapping the “DONE” button when you’re done.
Once the remote Dragon NaturallySpeaking server finishes processing your speech into text (which only takes a few seconds), it feeds the search phrase into the target web sites, and displays results.
Helpfully, Dragon Search “remembers” the last few (two, from the looks of it) searches, when you start it up again, letting you simply tap and select that search.
Editing Search terms
Text-to-speech isn’t perfect. Fortunately, this app lets you make corrections to the transcribed search terms and re-submit the search. For example, searching for “Fugue for Tinhorns” (the opening song from the musical GUYS AND DOLLS”) got rendered as “Feu 14 horns”.
For queries that Nuance can’t transcribe accurately, editing is useful. According to Nuance, in one of two ways: “You can tap on a word to get a drop-down list of alternative suggestions; however, I have yet to get a drop-down list. Or, you can tap the keyboard icon on the bottom left corner and use the standard iPhone text editing feature.”
The multi-search is convenient if you’re looking for something on one of the non-Google sites, e.g., on YouTube for “President Obama” “Green Eggs and Ham.” (BTW, it’s an inspired reading.)
One nitpick: Dragon Search doesn’t seem to be able to shift directly to “landscape” mode, which many of the videos are really meant for. The Google results let you open them up in the Safari browser, which can display them in landscape, but I haven’t found a way yet to push YouTube tab results into landscape.
Dragon Search does exactly what it promises to do: takes spoken search terms, converts them to text, feeds them into about half a dozen sites, and presents results. The speech-to-text accuracy is fairly good — and much faster than trying to type manually.
The app is also easy to use. For example, if you’re in a car (and not the driver), wanting to check on whether a restaurant is open, you can find it by voice search a lot easier than finger-poking.
This is a useful enough app, especially for free. Recommended.