Nuance has rolled out the next of its Dragon-branded apps, with Dragon Go, a new voice-activated search app for the iPhone. The app comes in the wake of Apple's iOS 5 announcement back in June, where it had been rumored by multiple sources that Apple would announce deep integration of Nuance's voice-recognition platform with the next iteration of iOS, which would have been ideal.
The Dragon products, which include Dragon Dictation and Dragon Medical Recorder, appear to be consumer-facing show pieces for Nuance's high-end voice-recognition and voice-to-text technologies. Without being baked into an operating system, or in the case of automobile's Ford's Sync system, the Nuance products are only brushing the surface of what's possible in the way of voice commands on the mobile.
As a stand-alone app, Nuance Go is a gorgeous piece of work. Users can touch a button, say whatever they're looking for and then search for that term across a variety of neatly integrated services, ranging from Pandora to YouTube to Google and Yelp!
There's also a host of commands that the app recognizes. So you can say things like "Find pizza near me," and the app will do just that, as well as let you share the location of that restaurant via email or social media with whomever you so choose. Or you can say, "Buy Angry Birds," and you'll be magically sent to the Angry Birds page in the App Store. It's a nice look at voice commands triggering iOS features, but I'd rather see the integration here turned on its head. Nuance is all about white-labeling its technology, so who knows, we could still see iOS 5 rocking Nuance capabilities when/if a new iPhone is released in September.
Go is nothing we haven't seen before, but it's one of the better stand-alone voice search apps out there. But as a free app, it still feels more like Nuance showcasing its technology and attempting, in baby steps, to get consumers used to the idea of using their voice to interact with their phone.
There are those out there who say voice is the next killer app, and they may be right. Granted, it will be killing us with embarrassment, as we all stand around talking to our phones instead of each other. However, as I said above, if Dragon Go is an example of voice recognition done right, it also underscores the need for voice command to be integrated at the OS level. Until that time, most users will continue to sniff out information with their fat little thumbs, even after they've download Nuance's new app.