Mobile voice recognition has long lagged behind its desktop counterparts. Due to the inherent limitations in cell-phone use, such as inconsistent connection quality and background noise, developing reliable voice-activated applications for phones is a greater challenge than PC-based speech recognition. Despite the inherent difficulties, reviewers report that voice recognition software is now a viable option on mobile platforms. Many mobile devices, such as Windows Phone 7 and Android-based phones, even include basic voice recognition software in their standard configurations.
The Dragon line already dominates the speech recognition market on both the PC and the Mac, and reviewers report that the Dragon Dictation app (free) for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch provides the same fast, accurate dictation results as its bigger brother. Dictation does have several downsides, however – most notably the fact that it's a straightforward dictation app with few vocal command features. Critics report the actual translation takes place at a central server, rather than on the mobile device, which means users need to be connected to the Internet in order to use the service. Additionally, reviewers negatively remark on the need to pause speech periodically as the text translation catches up to the voice buffer, as well as the lack of an ability to correct errors verbally. Ben Boychuk of Macworld wishes there were some sort of basic autosave feature, since receiving a call while dictating closes the app.
Reviews are more limited of Nuance's other products. Dragon for Email allows BlackBerry users to compose emails by voice. Dragon Search complements Dragon Dictation by giving iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users the ability to search the web vocally. Nuance's VSuite is included in many Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic and Samsung cell phones. You can't purchase VSuite separately, but if you own or buy one of these phones, you can use VSuite to transcribe text and email messages. Likewise, Nuance Voice Control is built into some smartphones and users to perform voice-controlled web searches and to dictate email and text messages.
The only other mobile speech recognition app with significant review attention is Vlingo (free), a voice command and dictation app available for several mobile platforms including Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows phones. Critics say the app's accuracy and command functions work well enough, if not perfectly, but the program learns from its errors and includes the ability to switch between American and British English. Users can perform several tasks, such as calling friends, searching the web and updating social media, in the free version. A paid premium version is available for BlackBerry, iPhone and Nokia users that lets you dictate text messages and emails (pricing varies - see Vlingo's website for details). Reviewers caution that Vlingo isn't quite ready to make the claim of a hands-free experience, given that you have to launch the app manually very time you use the service, and frequent cutting-and-pasting, confirmations and error corrections often require multiple button presses.
We also found a couple mentions of the Google Mobile app and Microsoft's Tellme software. The write-ups are favorable, but we were unable to find too many in-depth reviews of either program. Google Mobile allows you to speak your Google search terms into your phone. Ben Boychuk takes a look at the app over at Macworld, and comes away impressed with the way Google Mobile utilizes the iPhone's location function to tailor its results to your area. Microsoft's Tellme software powers the voice recognition and dictation system on the Windows Phone 7. Reception is largely positive, but no critics turn a detailed eye on Tellme.