Dragon speech recognition coming to UK iPhones, iPads soon

TechEye, along with a bunch of other hacks and hackettes – though mainly hacks – were at Nuance’s launch of Dragon Search and Dictation app for the iPad and iPhone at the Landmark Hotel last Thursday.

Nuance is the company behind Dragon NaturallySpeaking, speech recognition software which has come a long way since the early days of two-hour set-ups, dodgy mics and not being able to understand a thing. Set-up seemed pretty quick and easy – the bods at Nuance reckoned about five minutes in a pinch but we’d give a more liberal fifteen as an approximate.

Still, anyone who remembers early speech recognition software which was great in theory but crap in practice will welcome a quick mobile set up. Nuance now has IBM on-side for development as well. 

There’s multilingual support, too, with more languages to be added constantly.

As is the case with anything Apple’s involved in, if there is press there, there are going to be NDAs. We signed one, reluctantly – but we’d just trekked from North West London to Embankment and back to Marylebone and frankly we needed a glass of water and a sit down.

The Nuance guys were keen to highlight that they weren’t sure when the NDA was going to come to a close and that the people in PR land would keep the hacks and hackettes updated.

They knew exactly when the *other* thing under embargo would finish, though. So how come we’re writing about this if there were some pretty hefty NDAs involved before the journos could make their way to the canapes?

Nuance invited a ton of journos down and had a respectable amount of people down. But some hacks who were invited didn’t come down and so managed to avoid the dreaded NDA. The Sunday Times was one of those and ran a piece on the app in its InGear supplement about the app.

What Nuance didn’t mention to us was that the app was already available abroad, and so with a bit of Googling The Times put two and two together. The Mail Online and The Metro obviously are subscribing to Murdoch’s vehicle because they shortly both followed suit. D’oh – wish we’d thought of that.

We wonder what Apple’s part in this is. It was clear to us that the heavy handed NDAs were from the fruity company. It’s often a mystery with Apple – if the PR wizards in Cappucinno’s UK equivalent think something’s going to make it look good there’s a chance something is going to get “leaked”.

We were told by a Nuance spokesperson that The Times ran with the story as it is a Sunday broadsheet and likes to be “ahead of the pack”. But, in the end, it’s a speech recognition app for the iPhone and the iPad – it’s not the bleeding iTower of iBabel.

Apparently Apple isn’t “breathing down Nuance’s neck” at the moment. We’ve requested comment from Nuance about the NDA break and are waiting for a response.

So we had an email in our inbox today telling us the NDA is now null and void. We’ll have a look at the app and get back to you later. The demo looked impressive but then they always do.