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January 20, 2023updated 15 Nov 2023 8:11am

The 5 best free voice-to-text apps

Read (surely 'hear') all about Microsoft Dictate, Otter, Speechnotes, Notta and Braina Pro.

By Alexander Sword

Transcribing information from an audio form can be quite time-consuming. This is where voice-to-text apps come into play, similar to transcription software.

While transcription apps usually only create a PDF or text copy of a specific audio file, voice-to-text apps can be used live and produce more immediate results.

Speech recognition concept - close-up mobile phone with siri microphone icon and wave sound symbol. Personal voice assistant, deep learning application on smartphone screen.
Voice-to-text software is ideal for speeding up the writing process. Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

Some of these applications are downloadable on an Android or Apple phone, as well as on a desktop. Even though the majority of voice-to-text apps are not free, some of them can still be used without paying. Here are the best ones.

Microsoft Dictate

Platform: Windows

As one of Microsoft Office’s add-ons, Microsoft Dictate can be used on platforms like PowerPoint, Outlook and Word.

This app’s format is pretty standard in the sense that it is easily accessible for Microsoft users, by clicking on the ‘dictation’ tab in the toolbar as it is already pre-installed in every Microsoft 365 app.

The aspects that make Dictate stand out are the visual feedback it provides to signal it is processing the information, as well as supporting over 60 different languages.

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Speechnotes

Platform: Chrome

Speechnotes is another simple dictation tool compatible with every device that has access to Chrome and a microphone.

Since there is no registration or download necessary, this app is one of the most efficient and easy to use on the market. The general premise of it is free, however, there is a donation option to upgrade to premium.

Chrome‘s Speechnotes autosaves automatically each document and it also offers the possibility to type while speaking too.

Notta

Platform: Android, Mac, iOS, Windows, Chromebook

Notta is a complete voice-to-text app which can transcribe live speeches, video calls, audio files and even videos.

It provides multiple levels of organisation options, by organising one’s work into folders. In addition, Notta also supports the addition of images and the translation of over 40 languages. If the app is downloaded on multiple devices, it automatically saves the documents on each one of them.

Even though Notta’s Pro subscription retails for £14 a month, the Basic Plan is free, even with some restrictions such as the lack of multiple playback speeds.

Otter

Platform: iOS and Android

Otter is mostly used among businesses and academic environments as it is efficient in collaborative projects. The app is born as a cloud-based software with a variety of functions.

For instance, it offers keyword findings and summaries, as well as sharing them with other users to annotate. This is why it is mostly used during lectures, interviews or meetings, as well as for individual projects. Otter can also identify different voices and consequently assign different speaker IDs. One of the limitations of this app is the fact that it only supports English.

There are multiple subscription tiers, the basic one being free and the Pro one retailing for around £14 a month.

Braina Pro

Platform: Android, iOS, Windows

With its simple instructions and interface, Braina Pro is one of the most accessible voice-to-text apps. It provides almost perfect accuracy also when it comes to punctuation and grammar, offering also a dictionary and thesaurus.

This is why it is indicated for scientific fields, as it can understand unusual spelling and words, including medical and legal information.

Braina PRO is significantly more expensive than the other apps, costing $65 a month for the Pro plan. However, it also offers a free basic plan which is still efficient.

Read more: How real is the threat of data poisoning to generative AI?

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