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Although Nuance claims a 20 per cent improvement over the 99 per cent accuracy of the previous version, its main claim this time is increased recognition speed. It's certainly true that words pop up in the DNS speech bar more quickly than they used to and this is welcome, because otherwise if you're forever waiting for the program to catch up, dictation becomes very hesitant. If you can speak in complete sentences, the recognition rate is faster still.
If your work allows you to speak fluently, in complete sentences, we see no reason why you shouldn't be able to achieve the three-fold increase in speed over typing that Nuance claims for DNS 10. However, if your interaction with the software is more stop-start, the numbers of mis-recognition errors may increase and you will then spend more time going back and making corrections.
The DNS interface looks increasingly dated, with some sections – such as the Accuracy Center with its ugly font and hyperlinks – appearing pretty amateurish. The new icons are an improvement, but a complete overhaul is overdue.
One of the major extensions to the command set of DNS 10 is the ability to work with search engines, such as Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia and eBay – OK, we know the last two are not strictly search engines, but they’re still regularly searched for definitions and products. Being able to say “Search the Web for Gentle Giant” or “Search maps for Thai restaurants in Reading” – commands that open your web browser and run your default search or map engine with the details you’ve spoken – is getting that bit closer to computer interaction on the bridge of Voyager.
Halfway through the life of DNS 9, Nuance introduced a personalised vocabulary service, where a downloaded utility would collect your speech files and upload them to the company, who would then return an individually tailored vocabulary to increase the accuracy of speech recognition still further. That utility is now included as standard in the new version and is well worth taking advantage of.
Little niceties, like the streamlining of formatting commands can speed up everyday work. Rather than having to say ‘Select Voyager’ followed by ‘italicise that’, you can now say ‘Italicise Voyager’, to achieve the same effect.