Back on August 1 of 2014, I did a review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 Premium. Personally speaking, I was very proud of the article that I produced; mainly because when I do my reviews they are not the typical regurgitation of the sales material that everyone else puts on their website. I try to go through the applications when I do a review and point out some of the high points of the software; things that really stand out.
It seems that I was the only website that took the time to do an installation of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, do some testing, play with the software and then report on the highs and lows of the software. In the past, I think Nuance really appreciated that extra digging into the application.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking, historically, has been a great software package. Nuance has done a great job of increasing the performance and responsiveness of the speech recognition software over the years.
Why am I writing this?
I’m a proud and enthusiastic user of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and I’ve been using Dragon for many years and I think that the use of the software is very productive. But with the last release of the software [version 13] it was disappointing.
While the software clearly outperformed previous version on recognition and responsiveness, the application had some serious takeaways. And it seems that my website is the only one that had reported the problem. Maybe I wasn’t the first to report it, but I can’t find any other websites that do.
Last year, I found problems with Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 13. Serious problems that were going to affect a great number of Dragon NaturallySpeaking customers. Typically, most Dragon customers are ‘on the ready’ to purchase the next version because Nuance is always improving its compatibility, performance and recognition.
With the release of version 13, Nuance decided not to work on compatibility, they focused on performance and recognition. They also made a unilateral decision to say that Dragon NaturallySpeaking either works or doesn’t work with your applications; even if you are already using those applications in the past.
Unbeknownst to me, at the end of August, Nuance wrote a support article about the inconsistencies that users were seeing with the new version. I initially reported the problem, but Nuance never contacted me to let me know there was progress, but they created a support article, and they didn’t have any problems with taking the information directly from my blog [LEHSYS] and cutting and pasting information directly from my article into their support article.
Nuance support site:
LEHSYS Dragon review:
Using my information; I really don’t mind because it brings attention to the issue and Nuance is acknowledging the problem/issue. An issue that needs to be resolved.
What’s the problem?
With the introduction of version 12, Nuance added a checkbox for using a dictation box in case an application was a supported, but it also still allowed the user to use the software in a wide array of applications without using the dictation box; where the applications worked just fine.
With the release of version 13, Nuance decided that if the applications that you want to use Dragon with are not officially ‘supported’, the use of the dictation box would be required. There was no longer an exception.
In August 2014, I reported that Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 wasn’t supporting some of the standard applications that I had used in the past. The application would work in some software packages by being able to dictate some text, but she couldn’t make any corrections or make any formatting adjustments. In other applications, Dragon NaturallySpeaking wouldn’t work at all; no text appeared.
After doing some research, on the Nuance customer support website, I found no entries in the customer support forums about this issue. I had initially noticed some inconsistencies with Dragon NaturallySpeaking when I was trying to use it with Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. I reported those to the product tech-support manager. I was told that, at the time, version 13 wasn’t going to work with some applications and that’s why Nuance had to create customized [inconsistent by the way] plug-ins for the most popular web browsers.
So, overall Nuances answer to customer compatibility issues were to say that now you have to use the dictation box. Yes; it makes it ‘compatible’ but it doesn’t make it fluid to use as it was in the past. They detail this in the new support article on their website.
What’s the bigger problem?
Nondisclosure of limitations.
Nondisclosure of limitations is the biggest problem with the release of version 13 of Dragon.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking is not an application that you purchase on a whim. Users who purchase Dragon NaturallySpeaking either have a physical disability or have a true interest in being more productive and what they do. Dragon NaturallySpeaking gives those users the ability to speak to their computer. It gives them the ability to control the computer and also dictate thoughts and information directly to the computer and have text appear on the screen; that’s the basis of the software.
Any customer that had purchased Dragon NaturallySpeaking in the past would be expecting the same software package to be even more compatible, more efficient and more accurate with the next version, but that’s not the case with version 13. A lot of customers purchased version 13 with this illusion, and Nuance made no efforts to inform customers of these problems. I have received zero notifications from Nuance about version 13 and its limitations.
Today, I was doing a search on the Internet for a small issue that I was seeing with Dragon. In the search results, I saw something that was interesting and then I clicked on it. Lo and behold, it was a notice from Nuance about limitations with Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 13.
Notice…In version 13, Nuance decided that having a consistent user interface that worked reliably is more important than continuing support of flawed functionality within unsupported applications.…
Hidden inside Nuance’s customer support forums, Nuance makes a low profile disclosure to potential Dragon NaturallySpeaking customers to let them know about the limitations of version 13. This disclosure is issued by Nuance FOUR months after the initial release of the product [from August], from when I did my review; when the problems were reported.
What’s sad about this?
What’s sad about what Nuance is doing with Dragon NaturallySpeaking is that the changes that they’ve made now makes their speech recognition software only slightly better than Microsoft’s.
In the past, I’ve done a review of Microsoft’s speech recognition versus Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Positively, Dragon was the more robust and compatible with speech recognition that was available.
The winning aspect of Dragon was the number of applications that it was compatible with. In my testing, Microsoft’s speech recognition, the actual translation of words to text was really good, but it was not compatible with applications that users wanted to use it with, and the user interface is horrible. I can’t stress enough how bad the user interface is for Microsoft’s speech recognition; it’s so bad.
With the changes that Nuance is made to Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 13, the speech recognition engine is better, the performance is better, but the ability to be compatible with applications; Nuance has thrown away one of their flagship applications abilities to be robust and compatible with a wide range of applications.
It’s just as the notice from Nuance says, they made a decision to move forward with compatibility as opposed to trying to make their software work with ‘unsupported applications’.
BUT how hard would it be just to have a 3rd option to say Dragon NaturallySpeaking will do its best to be compatible and have the user click the option they agree and understand the limitations? How hard? And why couldn’t they have asked that before making their polarized decision?
Does Nuance care?
I don’t think that Nuance really does care all that much about the impact that they’re making. I think Nuance made the decision to say that our software only works with ‘supported applications’ and was secretly prepared for the backlash and critical comments about their software, and the decisions they made.
Nuance sees this as a segue to the future versions of Dragon. I’m sure that Nuance sees this as their Microsoft ME and Vista version of their day, hoping that the next version will be better received because of newer operating systems, updated applications and hopefully more tolerant users.
Nuance is a big company that currently enjoys an uncontested position in the PC market for speech recognition. The only other option is Microsoft speech recognition and that’s not much of a comparison.
Where is this ‘LIST’?
If Nuance is going to throw down the gauntlet on Dragon NaturallySpeaking to say that only ‘supported applications’ will work with their software; where is that list?
If a customer is getting ready to purchase Dragon for their day-to-day tasks, and because Nuance does not offer a trial version of their software, how does the average customer determine that Dragon NaturallySpeaking is going to be compatible with all the applications that they want it to work with [without purchasing it]?
Is Nuance really expecting users to contact the developers of the software packages they’re currently using and asked them if Dragon NaturallySpeaking is compatible with it? Or what questions would a customer have to ask another software developer to see if Dragon is going to be compatible?
All this seem like a cluster to deal with. And will Nuance put a disclaimer on their website and box packaging next time?
With v12 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, it was 6 months before Nuance offered a patch to v12.5. It’s been 7 months since v13 was released. When Nuance does finally get around to pushing out an update, I wonder if they’ll listen to their loyal customers or continue to shed them in favor of a ‘Steve Jobs’ type vision of Dragon.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on this, let me know in the comments below…
NoticeI wrote this article with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5 because v13 doesn’t work correctly or consistently with Google Chrome, nor Windows Live Writer.