Best Voice Recognition Software: 6 Top Options

In this article, we profile the best speech and voice recognition software program for your writing needs. 

Voice recognition software can be an excellent tool for writers. Using speech-to-text software, you can dictate and transcribe your writing into digital form. This can help writers use their time more efficiently as they get their ideas onto paper.

Yet not all speech-to-text software is created equal. Most will work in a similar fashion, transcribing what you say in real-time, using voice commands for things like punctuation and spacing, but some are better than others because they make better use of artificial intelligence to improve the writing process. 

Here is a list of the best voice recognition software options for writers who are interested in dictating their writing work.

Best Speech and Voice Recognition Software for Writers

The best voice recognition software

If you are going to purchase voice recognition software, you can scour Amazon, but the number of options can be overwhelming. To narrow down your choices, check out this list.

1. Dragon Naturallyspeaking

Pricing: $14.99 per month

Dragon dication
Dragon has an app, Dragon Anywhere, that can integrate with a mobile device

Dragon Naturallyspeaking is a group of apps from Nuance that regularly tops the list of top options for transcription. Dragon Professional Individual is a powerful and effective tool that can dictate at speeds of up to 160 words per minute. This is far faster than most people can type.

Dragon has an app, Dragon Anywhere, that can integrate with a mobile device. It works with macOSWindows, iOS and Android. Several tiers are available via a monthly subscription free. It’s also a good choice if you work on a Mac, as Dragon Naturallyspeaking is Windows-only.

But Dragon Professional Individual is the most popular for pro writers and business professionals. 

Who It’s For

Dragon Professional works well for individuals and professionals, especially freelancers and business pros. 

  • Simple interface
  • Microsoft Office integration
  • One-time fee pricing structure
  • High upfront cost
  • Some features may not be needed
  • Requires practice to learn well
  • Windows only

2. Otter.AI

Pricing: Free/from $8.33 per month

Otter has a free version that has 600 minutes of transcription time a month

Otter is often called the best voice recognition app for startup businesses. It is a transcribing tool for speeches and conversations, so you can take it into your business meeting to get a quick transcript of what was said. Easily add speaker notes, audio files, images and video files to the transcript after the meeting.

Otter has a free version that has 600 minutes of transcription time a month. It also has several premium plans based on your needs. 

Read our review

Who It’s For

Otter works well for entrepreneurs who take phone calls or attend meetings regularly and need transcripts from those meetings. It also works for team collaboration that requires dictation.

  • Free option
  • Built-in team collaboration options
  • Real-time captioning
  • Limited minutes on the free version
  • Not designed for writers
  • Not designed for desktop

3. Braina Pro

Pricing: $49 per year

Braina provides text-to-speech functionality

Braina Pro is a virtual assistant software program that includes a speech recognition component. It will not only capture transcripts but also set alarms, find files on a computer and search the web. The program works with Windows and can be used to operate smart home features.

In addition to working as a virtual assistant, Braina provides text-to-speech functionality. It can read texts on your phone out loud to you as well.

Who It’s For

The functionality of Braina means it works well for anyone who needs a computer-based office assistant that just happens to offer speech recognition. Many small-to-medium businesses can benefit from this program.

  • Offers a full digital assistant
  • Can control PC remotely
  • Has over 100 languages
  • Not compatible with Apple
  • Full access requires a subscription
  • Speech recognition requires Internet and the Chrome browser

Read our Braina review

4. Cortana

Pricing: Free

Through Cortana, you get the services of a comprehensive personal assistant

Cortana is a productivity assistant that comes with Microsoft 365. It also has a Chrome extension and mobile app that’s compatible with iOS and AndroidCortana can handle several languages with its dictation program.

Through Cortana, you get the services of a comprehensive personal assistant. Use it to set alarms and calendar reminders, and transcribe notes when needed. If you have Microsoft 365, there is no cost to have and use Cortana.

Who It’s For

Cortana works well for small to medium businesses and startups who are using Microsoft products and want to work a dictation tool into their workflows.

  • Several languages, including Chinese, Spanish, English, French and German
  • Mobile app option
  • Personal virtual assistant
  • Not as good with Apple products
  • Requires Microsoft 365
  • More powerful transcription options are available

5. Google Voice Typing

Pricing: Free

Google Voice Typing is very smart and can learn the context of your spoken words

If you are looking for a simple speech-to-text program that works with Google Docs and Google Sheet, Google Voice Typing is a good choice. It knows 43 languages and works quickly. It also has many built-in voice commands for formatting and even moving your mouse.

The transcription software in Google Voice Typing is very smart and can learn the context of your spoken words. Its speech recognition technology adapts quickly to the way you use it.

Who It’s For

Google Voice Typing isn’t designed for teams, but it works well for writers and solopreneurs. 

  • Free for use with any Gmail account
  • Smart voice recognition software
  • Uses 43 different languages
  • Requires Google products
  • Does not recognize some spoken editing commands
  • Requires quality mic and headset to work well

6. Apple Dictation

Pricing: Free for Apple product users

This program also has a voice-to-text feature that controls commands on a Mac computer

Apple Dictation can use Siri to offer a speech-to-text setting. It works well for short dictation, because it only handles 30 seconds at a time. This makes it ideal for jotting down notes or sending short texts.

This program also has a voice-to-text feature that controls commands on a Mac computer. It doesn’t work well for dictating large pieces of content, however.

Who It’s For

Apple Dictation helps one-person businesses and startups who use macOS manage their computers well.

  • Online and offline features
  • Works well for note-taking
  • Compatible with iOS devices
  • Does not work a windows speech recognition
  • Not a dictation app for long pieces
  • Handles 40 seconds at a time

Why You Can Trust Us

I’ve written and published dozens of articles for newspapers, magazines and online publications including, Forbes and Lifehacker. I’m also a best-selling non-fiction author, a trained journalist and a copywriter.

Software like the options here forms a key part of my writing workflow for non-fiction. I use voice recognition software regularly and also ask freelance writers to provide their impressions.

Our Testing Criteria

We regularly update this roundup as the voice recognition software evolve. We test new features by writing articles, book chapters and blog posts. 

These articles and other writing samples range from several hundred to several thousand words in length. Typically, we test them using the web, desktop and browser apps and plugins.

A Final Word on The Best Voice Recognition Software

Voice recognition software performs a number of functions for writers and professionals. For some, it is a tool used to jot down notes or send a quick text. For others, it is a replacement for typing. 

The best voice recognition software is one that recognizes your natural language and quickly transcribes what you say into written or typed words. Experiment with your options to find one that will meet your needs well.

FAQs on Voice Recognition Software

How does voice recognition software work?

Voice recognition software recognizes your speech and uses artificial intelligence to transform that into typed words. Many programs also use voice commands to handle formatting and punctuation needs. 

What is the best voice recognition software?

Dragon products regularly top the list of best voice recognition software because of their robust features, tutorials and integration into most operating systems. However, the best software for your needs will be the one that fits your budget and has the features you need for your work.

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  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.