Recently, I was given the opportunity to review the latest version of Dragon Professional Individual version 15. I’ve been a user of Dragon since version 7. I find that Nuance’s speech recognition software is probably the most advanced available. Speech recognition is probably the most powerful productive tool that you can use in your daily activities. Everything from composing documents, emails, instant messages, etc.
I’ve done software product documentation, support, installations, product development, software testing, and training. Having done all these things, it makes you focus on the functionality of the software, compatibility, and the behind-the-scenes support apparatus.
I’ve always been a big supporter and proponent of speech recognition, especially for Nuance and Dragon [since version 7]. I will gladly acknowledge that there have been huge improvements in speech recognition from Nuance since that time.
Unfortunately, since the release of Dragon version 13, Nuance has changed directions compatibility wise with their speech recognition software. I don’t find that their software is as compatible as it was prior to version 13.
Version 12 of Dragon was compatible with just about any application you wanted to use it with. It supported editing commands and other functions, but with the release of version 13, Nuance removed those editing commands because older applications specifically didn’t support text control. But the bigger issue was that Nuance didn’t want to deal with the ongoing support issues that they were getting. Apparently, it was a high-volume. From my perspective, it’s lowering the total number of support cases that come in; from Nuance’s position, it’s called making ‘Dragon more predictable’.
The problem they were facing was do we make Dragon more compatible with applications, do we allow users to create custom interfaces for those applications, or do we disallow Dragon from functioning in those applications; effectively removing and decreasing tech support calls? Nuance’s choice was to remove text control and force users to use the Dragon dictation pad.
Technically, by using the Dragon dictation pad, you’re still compatible with some of the older applications, but you don’t have the convenience of what you had before; mainly, voice editing. Going forward, Nuance with Dragon is forcing users to use the Dragon dictation pad. Users are still able to use Dragon to dictate into those applications, but at the end of those words or phrases, or sentences, the users have to say ‘transfer’. The transfer command simply copies and pastes everything that the user said into the active window. So technically Dragon is still compatible, but less convenient.
I’ve approached Nuance support about this twice; one of those times was with the product manager. In my latest enter counter, Nuance support confirmed that there is a number of users that are still complaining that Dragon is not compatible with the older applications and it still an issue, but it’s apparently not high on their list. The overall plan seems to be to wait out the storm and hope that all the applications that people are using are either of Microsoft base or too old for those users to continue using [transitioning to something else].
Another problem that Nuance has run into by making this change was that they realize very quickly that the major Internet browsers that are available don’t have this text control, so they had to create plug-ins for the major Internet browsers that people use. Unfortunately, for a wide array of users, those plug-ins don’t work properly. Making it almost impossible to use speech recognition properly inside a standard web browser.
In my testing, the use of Dragon with Google Chrome was less than helpful and the detectability of the speech recognition software was inconsistent; sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Dragon v15 doesn’t work at all with Mozilla’s Firefox, and Nuances support confirmed that its speech recognition software doesn’t work with Microsoft Edge either.
So you have a world who is connected to the Internet and Internet browsers. You have lots of applications that are browser-based, and then you have one of the most productive tools available to you, speech recognition, that doesn’t function properly inside of a web browser. That seems awfully shortsighted.
If Nuance’s goal is to create plug-ins for only popular applications, so their speech recognition software will function properly inside of it, this seems like a hell of a lot of special plug-ins to be compatible.
Now, I understand that ‘to each, his own’ and everyone has an opinion about software in one way or another. The problem that I think an array of people/customers of Dragon are being faced with is that, historically, Dragon had always added more compatibility as they release new versions and since version 13 that hasn’t been the case.
Since the release of version 13, Dragon has gained features such as auto transcription, MIC input options, Dragon Anywhere [subscription service] and a few other features. But since Dragon doesn’t have to worry about being compatible anymore Nuance can focus on new ‘features’.
I can only speak for myself when I say I need compatibility over features.
So here’s me, downgrading to version 12.5, again.
Important!Oh, one feature that Nuance has not thought of yet for Dragon is the ability to easily downgrade. When Dragon users found out that going from 12.5 to version 13 meant that they lost certain abilities and compatibilities with applications, they were notably upset because one they were not told of this change and to the new version of Dragon was already installed and now they’re going to have to downgrade.
Objectively, it would make sense, to the professionals who are using speech recognition on a daily basis, that if Nuance releases a new version of Dragon, (that has undocumented side effects/features) perhaps Nuance should offer a way to easily downgrade back to the old version without having to up-end their systems and reconfigure everything.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on this, let me know in the comments below…