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Grandma Gives Nuance’s Dragon Anywhere a Try

I decided to bite the bullet and purchase an annual subscription to Nuance’s Dragon Anywhere. For those not familiar with Dragon Anywhere, it’s a dictation app. Nuance has been in the dictation business for many years. I believe the first Dragon Dictation release was in 1997.

Dragon AnywhereI was introduced to Dragon’s software (back then, it was called NaturallySpeaking) in 1998 when I was tech writing. A co-worker shared a copy with me (yes, a bootleg copy). I don’t remember which version it was, but I was somewhat impressed with what it could do. It was kind of glitchy in those days, but it was the best of the available dictation programs.

Nuance Dictation Improvements

Over the years, Nuance made notable improvements in the software. I eventually purchased the software and upgraded it every few years. There was a time when Nuance gave their users the ability to dictate using a mobile device. It was part of the software purchase, but they discontinued that, much to my dismay.

In an attempt to replace that functionality, I tried and wrote about several alternatives (I wrote about them here, here, here, here, and here). DictatingAlthough I made them work, it wasn’t as efficient and accurate as dictating with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

What I did like about the alternatives, however, was that I didn’t have to train the programs to recognize my voice. Early on, NaturallySpeaking’s program required extensive voice training. I understood why it was necessary, but after using alternatives, I wondered if Nuance could provide the same accuracy without the lengthy training process.

Free Trial of Dragon Anywhere

Let me start this section by admitting my frugalness. Some folks call it being cheap, but I call it being frugal. Why spend money when you don’t have to? Anyway, I decided to download the free seven-day trial of Dragon Anywhere and give it a go.

If it proved beneficial to my writing process, I would purchase a subscription. Nuance offers a monthly subscription of $15 per month and an annual of $150 per year. It’s not cheap.One and Done

I remember when buying software involved a one-time purchase, and you own the program for life. Now, most programs/apps are on a subscription model. I understand why, but I don’t like it. I like the one-and-done payment model. However, subscriptions allow for timely updates, new features, and patches without having to wait for or pay for the next version of the program. A whole new paradigm.

The New Nuance Experience with Dragon Anywhere

The one notable difference with the Dragon Anywhere app is the need for voice training is gone. Once I logged into the app, I started dictating immediately, and the transcription was accurate. That was impressive.

There were a few hiccups, however. The first hiccup was my error. When I signed up for the trial, Nuance sent an email explaining how to log in. In my eagerness to get started, I partially read the email and attempted to sign into the app. I couldn’t and became frustrated. I would have avoided that frustration if I had read the entire email.

Activation Instructions

Getting Familiar with Dragon Anywhere

I use the app on my iPhone and iPads. The first time I attempted to use it on each device, the app crashed. It crashed on the iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and the iPhone. After restarting the app, everything worked just fine.

Here are some of the things I like about the program:

    • Accuracy: I’ve tried several dictation programs, and this one has always been the most accurate. The program is 99.9% accurate, and that’s the most important feature. That’s why I bought the program. If it’s not accurate, why spend the money?
    • No voice training is necessary: Dragon Anywhere transcribed my dictation right off the bat. I didn’t have to spend time reading paragraphs of text for it to become familiar with my speech pattern. That’s a big plus
    • Device Compatibility: I can use it on all my mobile devices. Well, almost all of them. It’s not compatible with the Amazon Fire tablet.
    • Dictation Length:I can dictate for as long as necessary. No 30-second time out like with the Apple dictation.
    • Document Import: The import documents feature comes in handy when modifying templates. It could be a real time saver.

Here are some of the things I don’t like about the program:

    • User Interface Colors: The menu items are yellow on a light grey background. Maybe it’s my aging eyes, but it’s difficult to see. I searched Settings in an attempt to change the colors but I couldn’t.

User Interface

    • Saving Files: I can sync documents to Evernote and Dropbox, two programs I don’t use. When saving to Word, Word saves a copy of the file, but it does not synchronize as it would with Evernote and Dropbox. These are not major problems. It just took me a minute to figure out how it worked.
    • Importing Documents: To import documents, the document must be stored locally on the device. Importing from iCloud is not an option. Once I realized the limitation, I could work around it, so it wasn’t a major issue.
    • The Nuance Website: Let me clarify, the problem isn’t the entire website. Just the portal to access my account. This annoyance has nothing to do with the quality of their product; their program is excellent, but their website is slow. When my free trial expired, I wanted to purchase an annual subscription. However, when I signed into my account (which took several minutes because the website was so slow), I only had the option to renew monthly.According to Dan, a Nuance Customer Service Rep, I would have to call the Sales Department to purchase the annual subscription. Really? In today’s digital age? He also confirmed the snail’s pace of the website. Instead of calling, I allowed the seven-day free trial to end. After it expired, I used Nuance’s slow website to purchase an annual subscription.

Features I Wish Dragon Anywhere Had

    • I wish it had an app that was compatible with the Apple watch.
    • I wish I could synchronize it with iCloud.

Bottom line, I like Dragon Anywhere. The problems I had with the program was due to a disconnect between my expectations and what the app does. Dragon Anywhere is a very good dictation app. Probably the best one available. As long as the dictation works properly, everything else is secondary.

Judging Nuance’s slow website and somewhat antiquated way of signing up for an annual subscription is sort of like judging a fish’s ability to climb trees. Fish are great swimmers and Nuance makes great dictation software.

Fish Don't Climb Trees

About the Author: Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, writer and low-tech blogger.

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