Ultimate Guide to Speech to Text Software
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Ultimate Guide to Speech to Text Software

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Remember those laborious and long lectures used by teachers to dictate notes? Fast-forward to today; you’re probably still taking notes, except this time not in the classroom but in meetings. Fortunately, speech-to-text software is changing this by turning your conversations into text.

Speech to text software turns audio into text. Take, for instance, Google’s in-built dictation tool, which automatically types what you say and turns your speech into text for free.

Speech to text dictation
Google speech-to-text

Whether you are a student, YouTuber, marketer, or business owner, speech to text is for you. Why?

Because dictation is faster than typing. According to a study by Stanford University, speech-to-text is 3X faster than typing, and a shift from typing to speech might be inevitable in the future.

In this article, let’s look at what speech-to-text software does, its underlying technology, and some of the best speech-to-text transcription software in the market.

What is speech to text software?

Simply put, speech-to-text software, or automatic speech recognition (ASR) software, is a computer program that listens to your speech and turns it into words, also known as speech recognition.

How does a speech to text software work?

On a high and simple level, speech recognition software works just like you learn a language:

You sign up for a course and usually buy three types of textbooks:

1. A book that explains how to pronounce the sounds represented by letters (think of an umlaut).

2. You buy a dictionary to learn new words in that language.

3. Grammar book that teaches sentence structure.

You first learn the smallest units—the sounds—also called phonemes in linguistics, followed by vocabulary, and then grammar rules.

Finally, you reinforce this learning by listening, reading, and speaking. This is the theoretical foundation of most ASR methods too.

It takes input sound from you, turns it into digital data, compares the data with its dictionary of trained voice data, and finally outputs the most likely word that matches what you've spoken.

If we go a little deeper, this is how the speech-to-text software works.

how the speech-to-text software works

When you speak a sentence, it creates a series of vibrations. The speech-to-text software then:

  • Picks up these vibrations and turns them into a digital format using an analog-to-digital converter
  • Next, it breaks down the sounds into the smallest unit ( 1/100 or 1/1000th of a second) or phonemes.
  • It runs these phonemes through a complex network of Machine Learning algorithms that compares them with sentences, words, and phrases.
  • It then outputs this text based on the audio's most likely version.
What is AI Transcription? Everything You Need to Know
AI transcription software can automatically record a conversation and convert that into text. It can detect emotion, intent, accents, recognize multiple speakers, pull up action items, and more.

Types of speech to text technology

Speech-to-text technology can be broadly classified into two types:

  • Speaker-dependent: Takes inputs from a speaker and provides the output. Most dictation software solutions are speaker-dependent.
  • Speaker-independent: Takes inputs from a recorded audio or video file or Live meetings and gives out the text.

Now you know the basics of speech-to-text software, let's see how transcription software can benefit you.

5 Amazing Benefits of Using Speech To Text Software

1. Efficiency and speed

If you could complete writing projects three times faster and spend your free time with friends or family, wouldn't you be happy? Of course, you'd be.

On average, speech recognition is three times faster than typing.

With the right speech-to-text software, you can accurately transcribe your speech and quickly complete your writing projects.

2. Better preparation and clarity

Lack of meeting insights misremembered details, and multiple versions of the truth– a byproduct of focusing too much on taking meeting notes.

To enhance communication with clients and prospects, focusing on what's being said while accurately taking meeting notes is essential. But that's easier said than done. Humans are generally not good at multitasking.

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But with the right transcription software, you can quickly turn any audio input into text.

You can focus on the conversation and refer to the meeting notes after each session to understand what your boss or client truly meant. This creates a single source of truth.

3. Repurpose content

Speech-to-text software lets you kill two birds with one stone. For instance, you can transcribe your podcast and repurpose it into a blog or infographics.

Similarly, you can put a spin on the meeting transcript with your client and prospects to create detailed reports.

4. Increase discoverability

Transcribing podcasts, webinars, or other content formats can make them more discoverable on Google.

Google search bots can crawl the transcript, understand the context, index the pages, and show your videos for the relevant search query.

Learn more: How to Automatically Transcribe your YouTube Videos

5. Low cost and fast turn-around time

Automated transcription software is cost-effective and faster than human transcription services.

A typical human transcription service may cost between $1.30 and $3.50 per minute. Most transcription software companies offer free trials or freemium plans to transcribe your first few meetings or media files.

Free trial and freemium plans are like getting a free ice cream sample. You get a taste of the flavor before buying the whole cone. In other words, experience the product first-hand before committing to it.

5 best speech-to-text software

1. Best speech-to-text software for iOS: Built-in dictation functionality

If you're looking for a dependable speech-to-text solution for your iPhone, look no further than your default iOS keyboard.

To ensure that voice dictation is enabled, go to your phone settings. Within the settings search bar, type in dictation and simply enable the dictation feature.

Click on the microphone icon on the iOS keyboard and speak. Your speech will be automatically transcribed to text.

The best part of this tool is that it works offline for a few languages. Moreover, it also has voice command support for most operations (e.g., formatting text and adding punctuation).

2. Best speech-to-text software for Android: Gboard Voice Typing

If you're looking for a popular and reliable speech-to-text software for your Android device - Gboard is something you can consider. It has robust speech recognition capabilities.

Gboard captures your voice into text in real time. This keyboard immediately pops up when you open any app that allows text entry (email, browser, notes). Click the microphone icon on the top right of the keyboard and start speaking.

Like the dictation feature in iOS, you can use your voice for anything, from writing emails to responding to text messages.

You also can personalize the app, allowing Gboard to recognize your voice usage patterns and improve them to increase accuracy over time.

Gboard also supports dictation in multiple languages and offers online use as well.

3. Best Speech to Text Software for Enterprises: Fireflies

Gboard and iOS dictation apps are great for individuals. But what if you are a small business or enterprise?

As a business, you might want software that transcribes your meetings and audio files, lets you collaborate and share voice notes, provides analytics of your voice data, and integrates with the tools you use.

Here's where Fireflies.ai comes in.

Fireflies is an AI notetaker app that helps individuals, SMBs, or large businesses to record and transcribe meetings or audio files to text and share it on various third-party apps through various integrations. It's a knowledge base of your voice data.

Fireflies ensures data security and privacy and meeting compliance while offering 90% transcription accuracy.

To use Fireflies, simply invite Fireflies to your meetings or use its Chrome extension to record and transcribe meetings. You can also upload your recorded audio or video files on Fireflies to transcribe them.

How to Invite the Fireflies AI Notetaker to Your Meetings
Read this guide to understand various ways to invite the Fireflies AI notetaker to your meetings. Join settings | Calendar Invites | Add to Live.

You can edit, create audio snippets, leave comments, and share transcripts for effortless collaboration. All the transcripts are saved online in your Fireflies account for easy access.

4. Best speech-to-text software for macOS: Built-in dictation

You can use Apple's built-in dictation function on your keyboard to enter text while you speak.

You can use the app offline if you're an iPhone 6s or later. Like the built-in dictation feature in iOS, macOS also automatically transcribes speech to text and, that too, in real-time!

5. Best speech to text software for Windows 11: Built-In dictation

If you would like reliable speech-to-text software for Windows 10, Microsoft's newest Operating system has a built-in dictation feature.

Microsoft dictation uses speech recognition technology to convert spoken words to text on your PC or laptop without you needing to download or install it.

To start dictating, highlight a text and press Windows logo key +H to open Microsoft dictation and speak.

To stop the transcription, just say, "Stop dictation."

Microsoft dictation has several voice commands that let you select/edit text, move the cursor to a certain location, and more.

Best overall: Fireflies for individual users and enterprises

Here are a few reasons why Fireflies is best for individual users and enterprises:

1. Accuracy

The accuracy of a speech-to-text software is calculated based on the Word Error Rate (WER) - i.e., the percentage of errors for every 100 words.

The inverse of WER gives you the accuracy percentage. So, if the WER is 2%, the accuracy is 98%.

According to the benchmarks published in 2020, the average WER for speech-to-text is far from 100%. As shown in the graph below, even tech giants like Google or Amazon have less than 80% accuracy.

Transcription accuracy (in 2020)

This is where Fireflies.ai has the edge over others, as it provides 90% accuracy.

There are multiple ways to search for information in your transcripts. Fireflies offer system-generated AI filters to quickly review meeting transcripts.

You can filter information based on sentiments, speakers, action items, dates, times, themes, topics, etc.

Additionally, you can manually search information using the transcription search bar on the top right corner of your meeting notepad.

Read more about Smart Search.

3. Topic Tracker

Topic trackers let you add keywords and phrases you want to track and search during calls. It shows how many times those words came up during a call and at what time.

For example, you want to track how often different marketing terms were mentioned during your client call. You can create a topic name marketing and add phrases like Content marketing, SEO, blogs, and Social media.

The next time you are on a call, you can easily see when these phrases were mentioned and how many times it was said on calls.

This helps you find relevant meeting insights in minutes. It's fast, automated, and highly efficient.

Read more: Topic Tracker

4. Soundbites

You can highlight memorable parts of your meeting or audio file and turn them into small audio snippets that you can share with your team.

You can share these snippets automatically to your favorite collaboration apps like Salesforce, Notion, Asana, Slack, and more.

Learn more about Soundbites.

5. Threads

Thread is one of the most useful post-meeting features on your Fireflies Notebook that allows you to add, reply and edit comments in the transcript.

You can read the transcript and leave a comment using the "make a comment" section, and Fireflies will create a timestamped comment that others can refer to while reviewing and replying.

Learn more about Threads.

6. Data security

At Fireflies, your data (including audio, transcripts, and related artifacts) is end-to-end encrypted at rest and in transit in AWS S3. We use 256-bit AES encryption in storage and 256-bit SSL/TLS encryption in transit.

Our servers are hosted in Google Cloud, and our database is hosted in a Virtual Private Cloud with AWS. AWS follows top IT security standards, including SOC 2 Type II, SOC 3, PCI-DSS certification, and ISO 27001.

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Read this blog to understand all the measures we take to keep your data safe, through product design, bot training to data storage, and compliance.

Stepping into the future with speech to text software

Convenience is a norm these days. And speech-to-text adds to it. While still imperfect, speech-to-text software offers a convenient way to take notes. It's a lot quicker and can integrate with apps that you already use.

As per the voice search stats in 2022, roughly 27% of the global adult population use voice search, a trend that will keep increasing.

So, if you love to ride the wave into the future using technology, you must make the most of speech-to-text transcription software. Even if you don't, and love to jot down notes on a piece of paper (we know old habits die hard!), it makes sense to try it just to get the feel of dictating your thoughts.

And once you get used to it, you may find it hard to go back to writing or typing.

Try Fireflies for free