If you are investigating speech to test apps in the Google, Apple, Amazon, or Microsoft stores, and are unsure how to choose the one that will meet your requirements, you have found the right guide. The first decision that you need to make is whether or not you should pay for an app.
There are plenty of free apps on the market that will do short speech to text assignment, such as help you draft a few paragraphs or a to-do list. But for lengthier assignments, or the production of more complex documents, you need a professional-grade app, as the free options are limited in both how much volume they can process, and how many features they have for corrections and refinement. Paid speech to text software is usually more accurate, more responsive, and has features that can give you as much control over the presentation of content that you generate as you could ever ask for.
This article will address some of the key differences between free and premium speech to text apps, thereby assisting you to make the first and most pivotal decision.
Punctuation And Formatting
Free speech to text software will relieve you of the task of typing but will still require you to do some work. Even though the output of the transcription may be 99% accurate, you still need to insert puctuation marks in the right places, and do formatting. If there is an error, you may have to go back and correct it manually. In other words, it will only create a first draft that requires proof reading and corrections which take time and effort.
Paid speech to text software, on the other hand, can do a lot of that work for you, as difficult this is to believe. Speech to text platforms such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM use machine learning or deep learning algorithms, not only to increase the accuracy of the speech to text converstion to almost 100%, but also understand nuances in voice inflection, meaning, and intent, so that punctuation is taken care of and proper nouns are capitalized. Therefore, the output of paid speech recognition is much closer to the final draft than it would be if it was free.
Between free and a paid speech to text apps, there can be a significant difference in accuracy. “Significant” in this case can mean 1-3%, which may not seem significant, but it is when it comes to the user’s time and peace of mind. An accuracy of 99.5% means having to make a correction once every 200 words, whereas an accuracy of 97% means having to do it 6 times for that length of text.
Free software usually recognizes discrete words and tries to match the audio signature of a word to the closest match in a database. Paid software, on the other hand, operates on a higher granularity. It can distinguish much shorter units of sound, usually syllables, and can even assemble words that are not part of the vocabulary. For example, if the speaker were to vocalize “abducation”, a non-existent word, the premium speech to text app could correcty print the word, whereas the free one might print “abduction”, or another close match.
Another capability present in some paid speech to text apps, and one lacking in free ones, is the ability to recognize different speakers during a recording. In this case, the paid app will produce separate text for every speaker.
Furthermore, audio noise can have a significant impact on the quality of transcript. Free platforms typically lack built-in denoising tools, which can aid in the elimination of background noise and may jeopardize the algorithm’s ability to understand the recorded speech. Denoising is usually included by default in paid software. Alternatively, some tools apply a custom acoustic model to better eliminate noisy interference in recordings.
Regardless of whether you use free or premium voice to text software, support is frequently lacking. This is not the case with SpeechToText Pro which offers a demo for each of its 60 voice commands, and 4 video tutorials.
In many free platforms, there is limited online documentation or assistance, and often you can only contact someone from the developer team via email. However, because free software does not have a broad range of functionality, you may not require much help or troubleshooting.
Whether or not a paid platform includes customer assistance varies. If you wish to communicate with a support engineer via email or phone, Microsoft and Google, for example, charge a fee. These assistance plans can be costly as well; both IT behemoths charge $100 or more per month for phone support.
On the plus side, if you utilize a well-known speech to text service, whether free or paid, it might be possible to find free assistance by googling the right keywords.
The choice between free and commercial voice to text software boils down to your specific requirements. If you simply need to convert a few minutes of speech, you might be able to save money by using a free speech to text app, as long as you are willing to double-check the transcripts yourself.
However, if you have hundreds of hours of speech or audio, a commercial voice to text tool is strongly recommended. They can be reasonably priced and are generally more accurate than free services. If your audio recordings are noisy or have several speakers, paid speech to text programs are also advised because they can handle these complexities much better than the free alternatives.