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Talk to text with two free iPhone dictation apps

There are several instances where it may behoove you to talk your text rather than type it. These two free apps for the iPhone will help make that possible.

In the battle between iPhone and Android, one of several things Android users can hang over the heads of their iPhone-toting brethren is the built-in talk-to-text capability. Luckily, owners of the Apple device can easily retort, "Well, there's an app for that!" In fact, there are several dictation programs available. Better yet, the two I've outlined below are free (for the most part).

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation: This completely free app--which is compatible with any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running OS 3.1 or later--is simpler in function than the other offering here. However, a new version was released just last week, adding several features that make it a compelling option. Namely, you can now paste your recently recorded text directly into the iPhone SMS client, and there's also an option to submit text to social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

Taking down a text is as simple as opening the app, hitting a record button, verifying the text, and pulling up a menu to submit it to the client of your choosing, be it SMS, e-mail, or one of the aforementioned social sites. If the text isn't quite right, there's a keyboard that you can pull up for editing, though I was impressed by the performance of the dictation detector during testing. It had about 85 percent accuracy--not bad for a free program. My only real complaint is that you can't use it within an existing text conversation.


Vlingo: Vlingo is a bit more handy--and advanced--than Dragon Dictation. However, in order to take advantage of two of the most useful features, you'll have to pay for it. The app includes free talk to text for Web search, social sites, maps, and voice dialing. But if you want to activate the features for SMS or e-mail, a fee is required: $6.99 each for either texting or e-mail, or $9.99 for both. Still, it may be worth it for some users.

Vlingo is neat in that it recognizes certain voice commands, so that instead of dictating and then pulling up a menu to designate where your text is going, you simply command "Twitter update" or "text," followed by the communication you want. This completely removes the need to fuss with your phone from the equation, which should really be the ultimate goal for any dictation app. Vlingo also offered good accuracy during testing.