Woke up and flipped on the RSS just now to find what looked like a promising new soft keyboard for Android by one of my favorite companies, Nuance, the king of voice recognition. They cooked something up called FlexT9 which judging from a couple other write-ups and their Youtube promo is a mixture of existing software: Swype, Google Gestures, Google Voice Search and the Android Keyboard with a darker SwiftKey Skin (minus the SwiftKey prediction engine) with a mechanism to flip from one mode to another as fast as you’d otherwise switch from letters to symbols rather than changing input methods which is normally an interminable six second process..

Okay, not bad sounding (not mind blowing either), but worth downloading and reviewing. But wait a second – five bucks, Nuance?! I mean hey, it sounds like it would be good for some people I suppose, but you didn’t reinvent the wheel here, you just managed to stuff a triangle, a trapezoid and a semicircle into the same wheel. Moreover, those shapes are otherwise free. Unless this is magically awesome voice recognition using your own stuff and not Google’s (and it is better than Google’s), … Look I am not even going to ask you guys to slide me a free copy to review because five bucks is too much for me to encourage our readers to buy (versus, say, SwiftKey, the Cadillac of Android soft keyboards) and I don’t need to try it just to say that five bucks is too much: this is not worth five bucks – you see? What is this, the Xoom of keyboards?

Lower the damn price to $3 (sorry, $2.99, keep forgetting to subtract a penny…) and then we’ll talk. In the meantime, in good faith, I’ll embed your youtube thing for those of our visitors who have infinite money. Not too bad, by the way, for a Youtube promo for some random Android software. But next time 720p please, maybe a nice nubile female supporting actress too, I imagine by now you’ve got yourselves a receptionist….

By the way Nuance, you’re not finished with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Nothing matches it but I’ve got a quadriplegic who, though he’s been using it happily for several years, still gets exhausted by some shortcomings and I’ve got another old lady with MS (not Microsoft but the even worse thing one could have) and an iPad who has no chance of copying and pasting from some notepad thing into an email, let alone understanding the concept of any of those things let alone mastering the “scratch that” command. Keep your eye on the ball here.

While you’re screwing around with a youtube account, how about a couple fifteen minute dictation did-you-know tips/tutorials for someone who’s been using your software for several years and would be much happier if he knew he can do this or that or the other thing to make symbols or whatever. Maybe you’ve already got that and I’d find out if I checked your Youtube channel, but I’d prefer that you’d call my attention to it with a link in the comment thread of this article.

But five bucks for a phone virtual keyboard thing, who do you think you is? You’re not Blindtype. For that I’d pay $6 (well, $5.99 I should say; $6 is kind of steep).

Doug Simmons

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hey people, I realize this is neither here nor there but while I’ve got top post could any of you explain to me why Thunderbird on my computer connected to Gmail through IMAP always gets email a good five seconds slower than my IMAP client on my phone, my Gmail client on my phone and my Chrome Gmail checker extension? Is it because I have almost 40K emails bogging down Thunderbird?

  2. I thought Nuance showed promise three years ago when speech-to-text on a mobile device, especially for SMS, was still a fantasy and they were buying up all sorts of speech recognition companies, XT9, etc. I remember seeing a video with the “world’s fastest texter” losing to someone speaking into their phone powered by some sort of Dragon for mobile. 2011, and they still haven’t made much of a splash.

  3. David K: The download is 3 megs. Are they fitting an entire voice recognition thing into three megs or is this an over the air thing a la Google’s either to Google or to Nuance?

    NaturallySpeaking/Dictate is awesome. Thanks to it my father’s neck-down nonambulatory business parter is able to communicate as effectively (if not more) than my father on his own. Before I got him on Dragon many others had tried and failed to get him using other speech recognition software and he just didn’t have the patience or was otherwise not taken by what he tried, then I messed with a bunch and settled on Dragon, pitched it on him, love at first speech. Priceless contribution to that man’s life, technologically-wise at least.

  4. Am I the only one turned off by how people everywhere do the .99 thing? If two guys were selling pretzels, one for .99 and the other a dollar, I’d pay up the extra penny for the guy who doesn’t think I’m stupid enough to be swayed one way or another because it’s below a certain odometer-effect threshold. You know what I mean?

    Also I don’t like carrying change.

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