We’ve been all over the voice powered services here at BBGeeks. Whether it’s translating incoming speech to text, as in the visual voicemail services, or translating outgoing speech, like Vlingo, it appears that this new trend won’t be dying anytime soon. Though some might think that voice activated apps are stupid, it’s clear that they can be of great advantage to a number of BlackBerry users, especially those who spend time in the car.
The premise of MyCaption is simple: record your emails to voice, rather than typing them out. It’s kind of like Vlingo, except only for email, and not as simple an interface. Let’s face it, using the convenience key makes everything easier.
Downloading the app
To get the MyCaption application, just head to their website, MyCaption.com. You’ll see on the left-hand side of the screen that new users are eligible for a 10-message trial. Therein lies the rub: the service is not free. It’s not exactly cheap, either, if you’re a power emailer. We’ll get to that in a moment, though. For now, let’s stick with downloading the app.
Unfortunately, the process is not instantaneous. You sign up for the service, and will be contacted later regarding the download. I signed up last Monday, and got the email on Thursday. So this is not for application geeks who want to give this thing a test spin. By the time you get it, the novelty might already have worn off. If it hasn’t, though, then you can dig in once you get the confirmation email.
Point of advice: Make sure to sign up with the email address that goes to your BlackBerry. This is an over the air download, and they send the link to the email address you provide. Of course, you could always just forward the email to the proper address. Alas…
Once you have the link, downloading is quite simple. It will place a backwards-Q-looking icon on your applications screen. You’ll also receive an email with instructions on how to use the application.
Emailing with your voice
There are a couple of ways to use MyCaption. First, you can open up your messages application and hit the menu button. In addition to the traditional compose feature, you’ll now see atop the menu “Compose (MyCaption)” as well as Reply and Reply To All options with MyCaption. Let’s go with Compose.
The first time you do this, you’ll be prompted with a dialog box asking if you want more help. If you opt for the help, it will basically tell you what the confirmation email did. You can also access the help screen from the main menu.
Watch out, though. Once you hit okay, the recording will start. The first time I tried it, I didn’t know it was recording until I saw the little blue bar on the bottom progressing. Just start talking, as you normally would, and hit “Done” when you’re finished.
As you’ll be instructed, don’t do anything at this point. You’ll be notified when the audio has been uploaded. At that point, if you have selected the “review text” option, you can do just that. Otherwise, you’ll have to pick a recipient and send.
The second way you can record a messages is through the application. Just hit “Compose Email” (duh), and the application will bring you to right to the recording screen. After the audio uploads, you’ll again have the chance to enter a recipient. And then it’s off with the email.
I ran my first test up in a quiet hotel room. It was flawless. Not only was the string correct, but it parsed the sentences as well, capitalization, punctuation and all. However, we know that sometimes, a little noise in the background can change everything.
So I went down to the gambling floor in Vegas and gave it a whirl. Sure enough, that was enough to throw off the transcription engine. Sure, I was using uncommon words like “Bellagio” (great buffet), but the string came out an unintelligible garble. I contemplated just fixing the errors, but they were too many.
If you’re in a car with the windows down, you shouldn’t have much issue. Windows up? I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ll give that a whirl when I get back home and have a car.
Clearly, I’m a fan of voice to text programs. However, MyCaption falls a little short of expectations. Yes, the transcription quality is good, which is one of the top considerations. However, given that 1) it’s not free, 2) it only covers email, and 3) accessing it isn’t as easy as Vlingo, I can’t say this is my favorite voice to text service. Maybe I’m just spoiled, having used Vlingo with the convenience key.
If your main aim is to have a flawless transcription, MyCaption is a winner. If you’re looking for easy of use, it’s not at the top of the list. Plus, there’s the whole pricing issue. You can choose to pay either $1 per message, or pay $9.99 per month and 50 cents per message. The latter plan comes with free short messages, which are those under 15 seconds.
Once again, you can get the download link here.