The iPad’s new dictation feature is not suitable for confidential business. Here’s why, and how transcription services offer an alternative.

Dictation was one of the highly-anticipated features of the new iPad, which was released earlier this month. Like the iPhone 4S, which also boasts the Siri virtual assistant software, the new iPad uses the latest voice recognition or speech to text technology that offers users a platform for dictating simple phrases or even longer speeches. Almost immediately, people began to fear for the survival of traditional transcription services providers.

The problem with Apple’s dictation features is that the information you dictate is always sent to Apple’s data centres for processing into text. We are not just talking about small snippets of audio here, but entire recordings along with personal information from your device that allows it to be identified. This would pose a risk for plenty of users that don’t wish for their private information to be disclosed. However, for business professionals such as solicitors or GPs who are using their iPhone or iPad to dictate confidential information, this could be a much more serious privacy concern. More worryingly, the dictation terms clearly state when you turn on the feature that information such as voice input and contacts will be sent to Apple in order to process the request. Although your personal data will be deleted if you turn off the feature, the dictation terms also state that some information such as voice recordings and diagnostic data about your device may be retained on Apple’s servers.

But why does Apple use data centres? The main reason that Apple uses data centres to process speech to text, rather than the iPhone or iPad itself, is because these devices don’t yet have the processing power to undertake the task. Even if they did, the cost of the devices, and the ramifications on other core features such as hard disk memory or battery power, would likely negate the advantage of introducing dictation as a feature in the first place. This is convenient for Apple’s developers, as processing dictation at its own data centres also gives them the opportunity to crowdsource speech samples from millions of users. Analysing these samples provides vital insights into the accents, dialects and regional speech habits of people around the world, allowing the system to grow and evolve. As it currently stands, Apple possesses the best voice recognition technology in the world, and they will only hang on to this title if they continue to develop their technology and systems accordingly.

Transcription services – a secure alternative

Unlike Apple, transcription companies put your confidential information above everything else. Before commencing work with us, all remote based transcribers and typists are required to sign a comprehensive confidentiality agreement. This demands that all employees must not disclose any client information, and any client files received as a result of work undertaken must be deleted off computers, disk drives or storage devices as a legal requirement. In this way, our clients are reassured that their information is never at risk of being disclosed.

Although transcription services do not offer instant speech to text processing, we do guarantee 100% accuracy and a super quick turnaround. Whilst dictation features on the iPhone or iPad might be sufficient for small tasks such as to do lists or memos, they are not even accurate enough for use in a professional environment. In comparison, companies who offer transcription services ensure that documents are transcribed accurately as they call on the experience of qualified typists. With transcription services, confidentiality and accuracy are never sacrificed for the sake of cost or convenience.