Best speech to text app of 2018

Man talking to computer
Best speech to text app

If you’re in an important meeting or lecture, it can be pretty hard to capture every single word the speaker says by using a pen. That’s where dictaphones and voice recording apps come in handy. Unfortunately, when you need to transfer this information to paper, things aren’t quite so simple.   

Transcribing recordings by hand is not only a lengthy and mundane task, but it can also do more damage than good. It’s easy to mishear words and end up writing down inaccurate things. Clearly, that wouldn’t be good if you’re working on an important business task or project.

However, speech recognition software can solve such problems. Underpinned by computational linguistics, it identifies spoken language and turns it into text. These systems differ in capabilities, with some only able to recognize a selection of words and phrases. But the most advanced dictation software can understand natural speech.   

While speech recognition isn’t a new phenomenon, it has undergone a great deal of transformation over the years. Previously, this technology was only accessible on computers, but recent advancements in the field mean there are now dictation applications for smartphones and tablets. Many of these are cloud-based and can be linked to a computer, giving you the ability to access transcribed files wherever and whenever you like. We've rounded up the best of this software right here.

Evernote

1. Evernote

A popular note-taking app

Easy-to-use 
Other note-taking features 
Free download option 
Not hugely powerful   

When it comes to productivity software, Evernote has been a big player on the scene for years. Not only is it a great app which allows you to take and organize conventional notes, but it also offers a nifty feature that allows you to dictate voice notes straight to the app. 

Although you’re able to create notes with your voice on the app, there is no option to convert audio recordings into text, and you aren’t able to search for specific words or phrases inside a recording. At any rate, you can use the voice note feature on both Android and iOS devices, and Evernote is still a powerful note-taking app in general.

In terms of other features, you can create searchable notes, checklists and to-do lists, and the app supports a variety of media. These include text, sketches, photos, audio, video, PDFs and web clippings. What’s more, you can use the camera of your mobile device to scan paper documents, business cards, handwritten notes and drawings.   

Plus, because the software is cloud-based, you can access your notes and lists from wherever you happen to be, on any device. Evernote is free to download, but there are premium plans available. For instance, the business subscription costs £10.99 ($14.80) a month per team member.   

Just Press Record

2. Just Press Record

A cloud-based transcription tool

Easy-to-use 
Underpinned by the cloud 
Multilingual   
No Android app   

If you want a dedicated dictation app, it’s worth checking out Just Press Record. It’s a mobile audio recorder that comes with features such as one tap recording, transcription and iCloud syncing across devices. The great thing is that it’s aimed at pretty much anyone and is extremely easy to use. 

When it comes to recording notes, all you have to do is press one button, and you get unlimited recording time. However, the really great thing about this app is that it also offers a powerful transcription service. 

Through it, you can quickly and easily turn speech into searchable text. Once you’ve transcribed a file, you can then edit it from within the app. There’s support for more than 30 languages as well, making it the perfect app if you’re working abroad or with an international team. Another nice feature is punctuation command recognition, ensuring that your transcriptions are free from typos.   

Like Evernote, this app is underpinned by cloud technology, meaning you can access notes from any device (which is online). You’re able to share audio and text files to other iOS apps too, and when it comes to organizing them, you can view recordings in a comprehensive file. The app is available on iOS devices for $4.99 (around £3.69).   

Speechnotes

3. Speechnotes

Powered by Google technology

Built-in Google voice recognition tech 
Recognizes punctuation marks 
Easy to use 
No iOS app 

Speechnotes is yet another easy to use dictation app. A useful touch here is that you don’t need to create an account or anything like that; you just open up the app and press on the microphone icon, and you’re off.   

The app is powered by Google voice recognition tech. When you’re recording a note, you can easily dictate punctuation marks through voice commands, or by using the built-in punctuation keyboard. 

To make things even easier, you can quickly add names, signatures, greetings and other frequently used text by using a set of custom keys on the built-in keyboard. There’s automatic capitalization as well, and every change made to a note is saved to the cloud.

When it comes to customizing notes, you can access a plethora of fonts and text sizes. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store, but you can make in-app purchases to access premium features (there's also a browser version for Chrome).   

Transcribe

4. Transcribe

Artificial intelligence-powered dictation software

AI tech 
Recognizes videos and voice memos 
User-friendly 
No Android option 

Marketed as a personal assistant for turning videos and voice memos into text files, Transcribe is a popular dictation app that’s powered by AI. It lets you make high quality transcriptions by just hitting a button.   

The app can transcribe any video or voice memo automatically, while supporting over 80 languages from across the world. While you can easily create notes with Transcribe, you can also import files from services such as Dropbox.

Once you’ve transcribed a file, you can export the raw text to a word processor to edit. The app is free to download, but you’ll have to make an in-app purchase if you want to make the most of these features in the long-term. There is a trial available, but it’s basically just 15 minutes of free transcription time. Transcribe is only available on iOS, though.   

Nuance Dragon Professional

5. Nuance Dragon Professional

A business-grade solution

Powerful features 
Designed for pros 
160 wpm dictation 
Expensive 

Should you be looking for a business-grade dictation application, your best bet is Dragon Professional. Aimed at pro users, the software provides you with the tools to dictate and edit documents, create spreadsheets, and browse the web using your voice.   

According to Nuance, the solution is capable of taking dictation at an equivalent typing speed of 160 words per minute, with a 99% accuracy rate – and that’s out-of-the-box, before any training is done (whereby the app adapts to your voice and words you commonly use).

As well as creating documents using your voice, you can also import custom word lists. There’s also an additional mobile app that lets you transcribe audio files and send them back to your computer.   

Overall, the interface is easy to use, and if you get stuck at all, you can access a series of help tutorials. However, the software is far from cheap, retailing at £279.99 (around $380).