Dictation and voice recognition software helps you to record your ideas hands-free, converting your voice into text on your computer or mobile device faster than you can type, while you’re working on other things, or if you have accessibility challenges.
We looked at the most popular dictation and voice recognition software options that covered the range of options for small businesses in terms of ease of use and available features.
Best Dictation & Voice Recognition Software Options
|Software Name||Best For|
|Dragon NaturallySpeaking||Best overall dictation and voice recognition software|
|Google Docs Voice Typing||Web based dictation for Google Docs|
|Google Now||Android mobile devices|
|Siri||iOS mobile devices|
When considering which dictation and voice recognition software is the best for small businesses, we looked at the best solutions currently available that:
- Include support for multiple languages
- Create documents using the text converted through voice recognition
- Allow the dictation of punctuation, symbols, and special characters
We also evaluated the software based on the key factors that you are most likely to consider, including:
- Ease of setup and use
We recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking as the best overall dictation and voice recognition software, but were nonetheless impressed by the range of other options. Read on to learn more about each of them.
Best Overall Dictation & Voice Recognition Software: Dragon NaturallySpeaking
Who Dragon NaturallySpeaking is Best Suited For
Dragon NaturallySpeaking sets the industry standard for dictation and voice recognition software across all platforms and browsers. It offers a wide range of different tools for different uses, including business solutions for specific industries like education, financial services, law enforcement, legal, medical, and small businesses.
If you expect to use dictation and voice recognition software regularly, then we recommend a dedicated solution like Dragon NaturallySpeaking to give you the widest range of features with the greatest reliability and accuracy. The other solutions presented in this guide are more supplemental options.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking supports seven languages — English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish — and its mobile apps support an additional 24.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Cost
Depending on the version you choose, the cost can range from $150 up to $1,000 with the small business version, Dragon Professional Individual v15, priced at $300. There’s also a mobile version for $15/month.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the leading software in its field, but its cost represents a significant investment when compared to the other options we reviewed — particularly Google Docs Voice Typing, Google Now, and Siri, all of which are free. However, if voice is going to be your primary interface with your computer, then having a dedicated platform-agnostic software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking will provide the most flexibility, accuracy, and reliability.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Primary Features
Once you’ve completed the setup process and acclimated the software to the tone and inflection of your voice, you can use Dragon NaturallySpeaking as the primary interface with your computer.
In addition to transcribing your voice to text with industry-leading accuracy, Dragon NaturallySpeaking allows you to use voice commands to control other software, navigate the internet, and input text into websites through your web browser. You can even create voice-controlled shortcuts for frequently executed tasks. For example, a command like “new client” could open your CRM software, log into your account, and create a new client for you to add sales call notes to.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking is more than dictation and voice recognition software. It’s an advanced workflow tool that enables you to perform your job’s tasks by talking.
Best Web-Based Dictation and Voice Recognition Software: Google Docs Voice Typing
Who Google Docs Voice Typing is Best Suited For
We recommend Google Docs Voice Typing as the best web-based dictation and voice recognition software because of its integration with the Google suite of productivity applications. If you only expect to pair your dictation and voice recognition software with the Google suite, whether as a collaborative tool or because your team is equipped with Chromebooks, then the tool is a logical and economical choice. However, if you expect to use your voice as your primary interface outside of the Google suite, then we recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Google Docs Voice Typing supports 43 different languages; however, voice commands, such as text selecting and formatting, are only supported in English.
Google Docs Voice Typing Cost
The Google Docs Voice Typing tool is free to use if you’re using Google Docs within the Google Chrome web browser.
Once you’ve enabled it through the Tools menu, a microphone icon will appear on your document. Clicking on the microphone will start and stop dictation and your speech will be transcribed into the document as you speak.
Google Docs Voice Typing Primary Features
In addition to transcribing your voice into text, the Google Docs Voice Typing tool also lets you select text, edit the formatting, and cut/copy and paste it around in your document — all through voice commands.
For example, saying “create bulleted list” will add bullet points; you can “select word or phrase” to edit its formatting by “bold”, “italicize”, or “underline”; and “go to end of paragraph” will move your cursor around in the document. These are among the over 100 different commands.
Google Docs Voice Typing also understands the context of your speech. When you begin to speak a command, the tool will start to transcribe the words; however, it will quickly recognize the command, delete the text, and apply your instructions.
Best Dictation and Voice Recognition Software for Android: Google Now
Who Google Now is Best Suited For
We recommend Google Now as the best dictation and voice recognition for Android mobile devices. While it’s also available in iOS, it integrates better with Android devices (as Siri does with iOS — see below). However, if you expect to use your voice as your primary interface outside of the Android platform, then we recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Like Google Docs Voice Typing, Google Now supports 43 different languages; however, voice commands, such as text selecting and formatting, are only supported in English.
Google Now Cost
Google Now is available for free within the Google app. Open the app, navigate to its settings, and enable Google Now. Once enabled, the functionality is activated by saying “Ok Google”.
Google Now Primary Features
Google Now is fully integrated with the Android operating system, which means you can use it to perform almost any function in addition to transcribing your voice to text. Native functions, such as making and receiving phone calls, sending text messages, composing emails, browsing the internet, and opening and closing apps can all be performed with simple voice commands. Support from third-party apps is also growing.
Google Now works on iOS devices as well, but only within the Google app and only for its main searching functionality and to transcribe your voice to text in a new Google Keep note.
Best Dictation and Voice Recognition Software for iOS: Siri
Who Siri is Best Suited For
We recommend Siri as the best dictation and voice recognition software for Apple’s iOS devices because it comes pre-installed and is fully integrated within the operating system. However, if you expect to use your voice as your primary interface outside of the iOS platform, then we recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Siri supports 21 different languages, including English, French, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, German, Italian, and Japanese.
Siri is available for free on any Apple iOS device, such as iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and even the newest version of Apple TVs.
Siri Primary Features
Once you’ve enabled Siri in your iOS device’s settings, you can access it by holding down the device’s home button or by saying “Hey Siri” if your version of iOS is current.
In addition to transcribing your voice into text, Siri is fully integrated with iOS and can perform many functions based on your verbal commands. Siri can also respond with a voice of its own, understanding both the relationship and context of your question or command. For example, you can ask Siri to compose a new email to your brother, read a new text message, set an alarm, get directions, or even make a dinner reservation.
Siri’s offline transcription functionality is somewhat limited, however. You can switch to it from typing by tapping the microphone icon on your device’s keyboard, but dictation is limited to 30 seconds. This may be enough for you to log a thought or idea, but not enough for a draft of a blog post.
Best Dictation and Voice Recognition Software for Windows: Cortana
Who Cortana is Best Suited For
This artificial intelligence hands-free assistant comes included with every Windows phone, as well as the Windows 10 operating system for computers. An Android and iOS version are also available, but we recommend Google Now and Siri for those devices, respectively.
Cortana supports English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and simplified Chinese.
Cortana comes pre-installed for free with every Windows phone as well as the Windows 10 computer operating system. A free mobile version is also available for Android and iOS devices.
Cortana Primary Features
With Cortana enabled, you can press and hold the search button on your Windows phone to open the Cortana app or simply say “Hey Cortana” to activate it with your voice. Cortana is well integrated with the Windows operating system and can compose and send text messages, update your calendar, play music, and even check the weather for you.
Cortana will also transcribe your voice into text and save it as a new note in OneNote for you to access later.
Bottom Line: Best Dictation & Voice Recognition Software
Dictation and voice recognition software has improved dramatically over the last few years, growing from simple voice to text transcription to fully integrated artificial intelligence applications that understand the context of your verbal commands and can operate your devices for you. There is a native solution for every major mobile operating system, as well as web-based applications and independent software that specializes in transcription.
If your primary need is to transcribe your voice into text, then we recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking as the best dictation and voice recognition software for its high degree of accuracy, comprehension, and specialization in specific industries.