My 82 year old father would like to create his memoirs by talking into his computer and having software convert the speech into text into a document like MS Word. Originally I was thinking that I would purchase software for his PC so that he talk into his PC's microphone and the software would take care of converting it into speech. In thinking through this further I realized that maybe using an iPhone or iPad he could do something similar. He currently has a PC desktop, a ChromeBook as his laptop and a flip phone as his cell phone. Would it make more sense for him to use either an iPhone or IPad to do this speech to text conversion and what additional software (if any) would be necessary?

  • Since he already has a PC and assuming he knows how to use it, then just get him Dragon 13 Home Edition. Which is now on sale for $74.99 and works very well and better then using an iDevice where everything that's dictated is transmitted off of the iDevice to be transcribed and then sent back as text, where additional editing will not be as easy as using the installed version on a PC where everything is processed on the PC, no transmitting required. Jul 13, 2015 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


My Grandfather had a similar need, he hand wrote his memoirs on paper and then wanted to turn them into a self published book.

The best way to do this is to get someone who has good English skills and is fast at typing to do it.

Speech recognition software is not use-friendly for those who are not tech savvy, I wouldn't suggest it is an easy way for him to use a computer. They are also incredibly inaccurate.

I would argue at this point Google Voice and Apple's Dictation features have better recognition than the leading product on the market as they learn from their users over time where as most standalone products have limited data to work from.

However it's worth a try, for OS X you'll need Nuance's Dragon Dictate for Mac it works I've tried two versions but it's not great however. It is pretty pricey, and you'll need to get the headset, it won't work very well with a poor quality microphone or just a ambient mic on your Mac.

They also have an app on iTunes that is free, again it works okay, but not great.

The main issue with dictation is that you have to say all the punctuation and often words are misheard and that can in turn confuse it with the next few words, it's also very difficult to think of what you want to say in written language quickly enough.

In conclusion, I honestly wouldn't recommend voice recognition, especially if you are hoping to make it easier for him. I would suggest he uses an iPad and types it, or you sit with him and he dictates it. My Granddad had my Mum do this in the end, 3-4 months of weekly meet-ups he was very happy and they had a great excuse to spend time together.

  • I use Nuance's Dragon Dictate v3 for Mac and it works great! Granted I do have a high-end Bluetooth Plantronics Headset, did the training, even though it wasn't absolutely required, it makes a big difference. My 95 year old father also uses the Windows version all the time as he really hates to manually type at his age. He started using it a few years ago and picked it up like second nature, so If he can master using it then the OP's 82 year old father probably can too. Jul 12, 2015 at 23:34
  • I have to say this is very much my opinion from seeing both grandparents struggle to use a computer at all let alone fancy voice recognition software. Also the microphone plays a massive part in the quality of the software as does the training... I would suggest trying the Dictate feature in OS X and in iOS but it's not designed for long dictation, so also try out that app. Jul 12, 2015 at 23:37

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