Aug 01 2014

Techie Review: Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Premium

742 Techie Review: Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Premium

Nuance has released their new version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13. Nuance released the previous version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking [12]  in October 2012. Since then, Nuance has released one major update, and that was to 12.5.

Every time that Nuance releases a new version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, they always provide the percentage of improvement and recognition that the application offers over the previous version. But with version 13, you can visibly see a noticeable increase with the level of recognition and responsiveness of your dictation. I have personally noticed that when I use the command for ‘correct that’; I’ve seen a much faster return on correction options.

Improvements in recognition and improving the responsiveness of issuing commands and making corrections; all these equal up to greater productivity. In my daily processes, I cannot imagine not having Dragon NaturallySpeaking available to me; it would be highly debilitating.

Dragon Software Packaging

I downloaded my copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 from Nuances distribution site. As a download, the installation files for Dragon NaturallySpeaking were 3.4 gig. In my particular case, it only took me about 5 minutes to download the installation file. The installation file was a zip file and inside the zip file was an executable; the executable was extracted and placed into a temporary folder. The installation for Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 was ran from a temporary folder.

The installation process for Dragon NaturallySpeaking was roughly the same as previous versions. Here’s the custom installation options; which mainly add two additional text to speech and speech files.

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One thing that was different than the previous versions was that this version, during the installation process, requires you to remove the existing versions before proceeding.

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You have to choose the option to remove all existing versions and then you’re given the option to continue with the installation. I can confirm this is part of the installation of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, but it was something that I ran into during the installation process; it asked me to uninstall Adobe Flash Player. This could be from the uninstallation of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 [considering the title of the window].

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This could be most notably tracked back to evidence where Adobe Flash was interfering with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. This shows that Nuance is making a asserted effort to make sure they tried to avoid future complications with Adobe; hopefully stabilizing Dragon going forward.

Immediately after the installation completes, you’re prompted to check for software updates and complete the activation. Although this was a brand-new installation of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, it’s always good to check the website to make sure there’s not any newer information/hot fixes available. For the product activation you can go through the Nuance website or you can activate the product when you execute Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the first time.

This installation process, for me, was longer than the others, but in defense of that, I was also uninstalling the previous version as well. I also need to mention that during the installation process, it’s noticeable that Nuance is making efforts to try to educate users during the installation process about the help options, how to speak when doing dictation and how to properly position your microphone when using the software.


Initial thoughts and impressions

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Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 has a new toolbar; it’s even called New DragonBar.

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The new DragonBar is very similar to the previous version, but the new version has a touch of the new Microsoft interface to it. When the New DragonBar is not actively being used, it automatically compresses itself down to a smaller size, taking up less space on your display. You still have all of the normal options and features you would normally see; it’s just more friendly.

Under the hood, in the backside of the application options/file menus, it’s pretty much the same feature set that you may have seen in the past.



Higher Recognition

As I mentioned before, with each release of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, it gets better;. When I was speaking with representative from Nuance the other day, they indicated that this release of Dragon NaturallySpeaking was a complete rework of the voice-recognition engine behind the recognition of the software. With this release of Dragon, Nuance is reporting that it’s 15% more accurate than the release of Dragon 12. I personally have noticed that the recognition between version 12 and 13 is significant.

Even with starting off a new profile in Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I was able to skip any kind of voice training and go directly into dictation. The application was picking up on my voice and transcribing what I was saying almost perfectly.

The training process for Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 has changed. In previous versions of Dragon, a user could sit down with the training stories and let Dragon NaturallySpeaking adapt to their voice and how they speak.

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With the new version, Dragon simply allows you to read the paragraph as you normally would and doesn’t try to make any corrections as your speaking; you’re simply expected to read the paragraphs and then Dragon will learn your voice patterns from there.

Wider Range Of Microphone Sources

The new version of Dragon now offers a greater range of microphone sources. Historically, using Dragon with dictation required users to use headsets to get the most accurate recognition out of the software, but with this latest release, you don’t have to be using a headset to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

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The software now allows you to be able to dictate from microphones from multiple sources, including those from current laptops and WebCams. Dragon will automatically detect any source options, list those, and allow you to choose from that list.

Dragon understands a great deal of everything that you say, but it doesn’t recognize everything, with every dialect and accent. As with previous versions, going through training, there was a recommendation that most people who use Dragon NaturallySpeaking should try to speak clearly. Not so much by saying each word one by one. but trying to speak clearly like a newscaster.

Also, users who decide to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking, should not forget about the available smartphone application for the iPhone and android, Dragon Remote Microphone. This should allow users to use their smartphones as a high-performance microphone for doing dictation.

Dragon Remote Microphone

Greater Compatibility With Web Browsers

Nuance provides extensions and add-ons for the most common Internet browsers for greater compatibility and functionality with Dragon. It provides improved voice command and control, including fulltext control when dictating into Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo Mail.

Internet Explorer:



Read Back/Proofreading

For anyone who’s used voice recognition software, or has used Dragon in the past, understands how important it can be to use a software package to read back/proofread the information that you just dictated. While Dragon NaturallySpeaking is very accurate on transcribing what people say, there is room for error, and having the ability to have that information proofread is very important.

One of the nice new features of Dragon is the ability to use the command ‘read that‘. The installation of Dragon NaturallySpeaking comes with built-in text-to-speech voices [US and British]. Now, with Dragon you’re able to select the paragraph, sentence or a word and choose to have Dragon read that information back to you. For me personally, this will be an improvement, as I have been using another application in the past to proofread some of the articles that I generate.

Vocabulary Handling

Just as important as recognition is the handling of your vocabulary. Getting new words into the system and having Dragon recognize and transcribe those for you is very important. Nuance has made some slight improvements to version 13 that allows Dragon to dig through your web-based email accounts such as Gmail and Yahoo mail. From there, Dragon will start to familiarize itself and how you communicate and special words you might use.

In addition to digging through your web-based mail, Nuance has made some small adjustments to the vocabulary editor that allows you to search for existing words as well as their spoken forms. And as introduced with version 12, Dragon now has the Smart Format Rules which allows users of Dragon to specially format abbreviations, numbers and other pieces of information.

Better Dragon Education

With the release of Dragon version 12, Nuance has been making an assertive effort to provide more comprehensive educational information. This is being offered to users in the form of the Dragon Sidebar/Learning Center, pop-up hints for using Dragon in other applications as well as tutorial videos that of been published by Nuance over the last two years.

As I mentioned during the installation phase of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, Nuance is making subtle advances towards new customers to help them understand how to properly use the software.

Here’s a link to some of the video tutorials that Nuance has been offering over the last two years.

Video tutorials



Limited functionality in other apps

One of the reason that I have always found that Dragon NaturallySpeaking has been superior to any other application doing voice-recognition, has been the level of compatibility that Dragon has over another application like Microsoft’s was recognition. For instance, Microsoft’s voice-recognition only works mainly with Microsoft products or applications that have the required voice-recognition layer to it.

With the release of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, I have seen evidence that Nuance has started to impose limitations on which applications Dragon is incompatible with. Applications like Thunderbird, Notepad++, eM client, Evernote [PC] and MyNotesKeeper no longer function with simple text dictation.

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With version 12 of Dragon, you could dictate directly into these applications and issue commands like ‘select line‘, ‘correct that‘, ‘select line‘or ‘capitalize that‘ and the application would function as normally.

Now, in version 13, Dragon the longer affords those applications a level of compatibility just for text correction. Dragon is compatible with them on the level that if you use the DragonPad dictation box, dictate into the text box and then transfer the contents of the dictation box into the desired application.

So it’s possible that Dragon is compatible with off name applications, but Nuance is taking the position, similar to Microsoft, and saying that, ‘yes, our software is compatible with these other applications, but with this caveat—’.

This was disappointing to me personally because I am not a exclusive ‘Microsoft’ person. I run a Windows operating system, but I don’t use Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook or Internet Explorer. I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to dictate into several different applications and now Dragon is not as compatible as it was with other applications.

Having to use these applications with the dictation box and then having to remember to say the word ‘transfer‘ every so often is a little bit irritating and it’s unnatural; it really messes with the flow of composition.

Special Mentions

I ran into a slight issue with the installation of Dragon NaturallySpeaking on my system and I want to take a second to share information that I found out. In my previous configuration for Dragon 12, I did not have the ‘enable HTML support’ option turned on.

With version 13 of Dragon, in order for the web extensions to be compatible in the web browsers that are mentioned [Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer]; this option has to be turned on. Otherwise the abilities to issue commands for ‘correct that’ or ‘click link’ don’t work properly.

You can find the settings in Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 13, under Tools, Options and Commands. Please reference the links above for the browser extensions and plug-ins.

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After you make this change, I would recommend restarting Dragon NaturallySpeaking and restarting the respective browsers.

A special thanks goes out to Nuance’s support representatives that helped me identify and resolve this particular issue. I wanted to share, as it may help others in a similar situation.

My Conclusions

There’s no doubt in my mind that the release of version 13 of Dragon is an improvement in performance and recognition, more than any other version that Nuance has offered previously.

However, Nuance seems to be focusing on the stability of Dragon, and making sure that it functions properly in a certain set of applications. I mention this because the compatibility issues that Nuance has had in the past with Adobe Flash and I’m sure some compatibility issues with applications that Dragon NaturallySpeaking was never tested with.

There’s a palpable trade-off between the new performance and recognition versus the application compatibility that’s been taken away. The question here how much is this going to affect existing Dragon customers and is upgrading to version 13’s performance and recognition going to be worth sacrificing compatibility with other applications you might be using a regular basis. I’m unsure.

I have used Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 to dictate this entire article, and the speed and recognition that the software has provided in helping me compose all this has been exceptional.


Will you be upgrading to Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13?

  • yes. (74%, 105 Votes)
  • no. (21%, 30 Votes)
  • I type faster than voice recognition. (5%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 142

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Dragon NaturallySpeaking [check this out for more information, versions, availability and pricing]

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