As you may have heard, Apple has released the latest version of its Mac operating system: OS X 10.9 Mavericks. I have spent the last couple days playing around with some of the new features, and one of my favorites is called Enhanced Dictation. As you also may know, last year Apple introduced dictation in both iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion. It did not take long for me to become a huge fan of both. Now, I most frequently dictate e-mails, rather than type them. I have generally found the dictation feature to be highly accurate and very convenient. My only complaint about the feature was that it required a persistent Internet connection, in order to transmit speech to an Apple server and then receive the words back in typed form. This generally happened quite quickly, within a second or so. It was never a question of the time it took to convert the spoken word into typed words, only a question of whether an Internet connection was available. On an iPad without cellular Internet service, or for a MacBook (period), it meant only being able to dictate where Wi-Fi network was available. When using the online service, one also is limited to about 30 seconds of dictation at a time.
The latest incarnation of Mac OS X removes this stumbling block to dictation. Now, with a download of less than 800 MB, dictation is available on a MacBook or a desktop Mac anytime, anywhere. And best of all, since Mac OS X10.9 Mavericks is available for free, enhanced dictation is free. What used to cost hundreds of dollars for third-party software, is now available to anyone with a Mac capable of supporting OS X 10.9, which means pretty much any Mac purchased in the last six years. Enhanced Dictation lets you speak continuously with the words appearing before your very eyes. Anywhere you can type, you can dictate. The service is very smart about capitalization and to enter punctuation, you just speak the name of the punctuation mark you want. So, for example speaking quote I love ice cream period unquote produces "I love ice cream."
Apple has truly been at it again: providing new value and adding features to years-old hardware. There are many reasons why you might want to update to Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks, but not as many of them are as obviously useful for an attorney as enhanced dictation. If you skipped any of the recent Mac OS X updates, you are in luck. OS X 10.9 Mavericks is free to any Mac owner who is using 10.6 Snow Leopard or later.
PS: this entire blog post was done with dictation.
Get it here: OS X 10.9 Mavericks on the Mac App Store (FREE)
Ronald C. Schoedel III is an attorney, former broadcaster, student of Welsh, and Sinophile. He has lived in Alaska, Wales, and China (Hong Kong specifically), and presently calls Utah home. He has been teaching and training Mac users for nearly a decade, and started blogging as a software reviewer in 2004.