back to article Mac users burned after Nuance drops Dragon speech to text software

A seemingly insignificant product cancellation is having a far-reaching impact on a particular community of Mac users. Reg reader (and contributor) Colin Hughes wrote in to inform us about how Developer Nuance's decision to drop the OS X port of its Dragon Professional for Mac has left some customers with disabilities out in …

  1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

    I very strongly suggest that you stick to Apple for as long as possible. Win10 is *NOT* for anyone that can't either repair their systems themselves or pay constantly to have someone fix it. The constant updates *will* break something that is mission critical for you & if you can't do the hurdle jumping to fix the MS fuster cluck, then you'll have to pay someone else to get you a working system once more. That will eventually leave you bankrupt so best not to even start down that slippery slope to hell.

    Keep using DNS until the then current version of the OS won't run it any longer - it may not be secure or develope niggles that drive you bonkers, but it'll still be infinitely better than anything you might try on Windows. At least the Mac is inherently friendly to the disabled, the exact polar opposite of Windows. I don't care HOW good DNS on Windows claims to be, it'll never hold a candle to the level of productivity you enjoy on a Mac.

    As my personal anectdote example, I use Jaws from Freedom Scientific. It's claimed to be The Best screen reader for Windows, but it is absolute *crap* compared to the mere five minute demo of Apple's built in (not bolt on) accessibility ability to do that same job natively. The ability of Jaws to read a PDF is just one example: you have to launch a 3rd party PDF reader, tell Jaws to OCR the screen, wait for it to finish, then Copy&Paste the results into an instance of Notepad so it can then be read aloud by the screen reader; even then you will have to manually mentally decipher the constant crap shoot that is thinking an i is a 1, an a is an o, that an o is a 0, vice versa ad nauseum infinitum. But the demo at the Apple store was find a PDF, click it to open it, & let the screen reader start reading. No 3rd party PDF viewer, no waiting for OCR, no need to C&P it elsewhere, just open it & let it get read. THAT kind of attention to detail means *nothing* you ever do on Windows will compare to what you can already do on your Mac.

    Even if you have to figure out some way of running DNS in a VM on your Mac under a previous version of the OS, that would STILL be a better experience than Windows.

    And all this, this entire plea/rant is from someone still stuck on Windows 7 whom has used a Mac for less than an hour total. Just the various demos at the Apple store. Just that little interaction is all the proof I need that you will *loathe with the fury of a trillion incandescent suns* your experience trying to do anything under Windows. Trust me. I'm the guy that made the comment how Windows sucks so hard it made black holes look like they were ejaculating. I know it's hyperbole, I know it's definitely over the top, but that "grain of truth" is large enough to gag a whale.

    I'll buy you a virtual pint to commiserate, hoping like hell you stay with Mac until the heat death of the universe.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

      Sadly, Apple are killing Mac.

      Every new release they remove an API that programs rely on, insisting that everyone change over to some new API that doesn't do everything the old one could, has a different model and is often buggy as heck.

      I'm not surprised that Nuance have stopped trying to keep up.

      I would guess that this decision was caused by Apple deprecating the audio subsystem and OpenCL.

      It was obvious that many cross-platform applications would be forced to drop macOS support when that happened.

      If you have to spend several person-months of developer time just to stay still on that platform, there is a huge commercial pressure to just give up.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

        @Richard12 - and why is Windows any different? Genuine question.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

          Microsoft have a long history of maintaining backwards compatibility at almost any cost.

          MS also have a long history of pushing new APIs then dead-ending them, but at least they very rarely intentionally break them. I think Win16 is the only API that has been intentionally removed in the last 20 years (though I'm not sure about very early DirectX).

          Apple have a long history of actively removing APIs, and to hell with anyone who was using them.

          In short, while they both break stuff increasingly often, Apple do it deliberately.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Siri===Nuance

        >there is a huge commercial pressure to just give up.

        Particularly when you're making a shit ton of cash anyway, by licensing your engine to Apple for Siri and the built-in dictation!

      3. Arctic fox
        Headmaster

        @ Richard 12 Re: "Sadly, Apple are killing Mac."

        Indeed, I fear that you are right. To a very great degree It is not Nuance who are crapping on their customers but Apple themselves as far as macOS is concerned. Their attitude to loyal punters who pony up very significant sums for Apple kit, frankly speaking, stinks.

      4. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

        Sadly, Apple are killing Mac.

        ...

        If you have to spend several person-months of developer time just to stay still on that platform, there is a huge commercial pressure to just give up.

        Unfortunately where Apple goes, MS tends to follow...

        We have already seen the first third-party software developer casualties, as they give up on Win10 due to the cost of keeping up with the constant flow of changes MS insist are necessary...

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

      Does this hold true even if the PDF pages are GRAPHIC rather than textual (raw vs. OCR'd)?

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

        The danger of demos...

        A lot of PDFs contain no actual text, merely graphics. Some are even bitmaps.

        It depends on how they were created and whether the fonts are licenced to be distributed.

        Other PDFs are text and layout, but the layout internal order has nothing to do with the visual order.

        Other PDFs are text and layout in a logical order, with chapters and paragraph bookmarking, and reading hints like "this is a footer".

        Guess which gets used in screen reader demos, and which ones get spewed out as "documentation" by a lot of companies.

        It saddens me greatly, because it really isn't hard to do reasonably well.

      2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At Charles 9, re: PDF.

        Jaws must OCR *every* PDF because it treats them all as giant pictures. Supposedly a PDF can be made accessible, but it has to be created from the ground up with accessibility in mind. This means essentially giving all the information inside the PDF container *twice*: once as the graphical presentation typical of a normal PDF, then again as nothing but the plain text itself as if it were one long bit of AltText. Nobody, and I mean *nobody* does that, not even the folks that tried to present a supposedly accessible PDF. Jaws tried to OCR it, found *nothing* it could read, & gave up. If *that* is the level of accessibility of an intentionally created PDF attempting to be accessible, imagine how craptastic a typical non-accessible one must be.

        But the one from the demo at the Apple store was as different as night & day. They went online, found a random PDF from a scientific journal site, grabbed a copy, & clicked to open it. A PDF full of math symbols, Greek letters (more math), it all got read by the built in screen reader functionality. No major hiccoughs, no crapping itself trying to constantly switch between English & Greek, just a smooth reciting of the information as if it (the Apple screen reader) had written it in the first place. THAT is the attention to detail that makes an Apple product infinitely superior to a Windows "solution", but it's all neither here nor there.

        Evidently my downvoters think Windows is better than Apple. They'd change their minds in a hurry if I sat them down in front of an Apple & a Windows box, unplugged the monitors entirely, & told them to Get Shit Done purely by the audio accessibility native to each OS. The Apple might not hinder them too badly, the Windows one would obstruct them at every turn.

        *Shrugs, smiles wearily*

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At Charles 9, re: PDF.

          >told them to Get Shit Done purely by the audio accessibility native to each OS

          Chuckles - are you not wowed by the much lauded Narrator updates then?

          Ignore the downvotes, your experience is typical IME - all but a few diehard mud-stickers have shifted Macwards on the desktop in recent years and in mobile for VI and switch there's really no other contender. Price is the only complaint - albeit a more than gigantic one.

        2. david 12 Bronze badge

          Re: At Charles 9, re: PDF.

          Jaws does NOT treat all PDF's as giant pictures. That's simply not true. As in "FALSE".

          PDF's are notoriously arbitrarily complex: you may have a PDF that spells "Shadow Systems" by using graphics of the individual characters a d e h m o S s t w. That PDF would have to be OCR'd and the text constructed by the letters. Even text content may be in any order, requiring screen composition before the reader can make sense of it. Businesses exist that take arbitrary PDF's, and convert them into screen readable form.

          But JAWS doesn't treat all PDF's as giant pictures that can only be read by OCR. It is a remarkable bit of ignorance to suggest that it does.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: At Charles 9, re: PDF.

            >But JAWS doesn't treat all PDF's as giant pictures that can only be read by OCR.

            > It is a remarkable bit of ignorance to suggest that it does.

            My reading was the OP was habitually firing up convenient when the quick check failed - do you actually use JAWS?!

        3. jsmith1202

          Re: At Charles 9, re: PDF.

          Your experiment, of sitting in front of a box with no monitor, is one I have done repeatedly, I like the iPhone, I would really like to love the Mac, spending $250 or so annually for a screen reader makes me reach for the nearest sick-bag, but the Mac simpley doesn't do what the Windows box does. Again, the return policy had better be good. A demo at an apple store isn't even remotely enough, buy one and try it for a week and a half straight. I've done so, I wish I could have continued, but the more I did it, the more I was told "you can't do that" or "it will take forever to do that" or "you're trying to do it the Windows way". I don't care which way I do it, I want it done. The Mac accessibility is one of the saddest chapters of the sad story of accessibility, it could have been so good, it's so crap.

    3. goldcd

      As you seemed to be reviewing windows 10, whilst using 7

      Just thought I'd have a crack at seeming at accessibility was like - to say read a PDF as your suggest.

      Ctrl+Win+Enter turns narrator on, which seems to give you a running commentary of whatever you've loaded, hovering over (including right click options).

      Found PDF and opened it (defaulted to Edge) and got description of the doc (name, it's 5 pages, currently showing one page per screen). Then had bar at top that read me the PDF. Nifty 'karaoke' thing that highlights text it's currently reading, and lets me 'jog' through sections (auto-scrolling and highlighting where the focus is).

      I know it's cheating as my vision is fine - but honestly didn't seem that bad.

      1. jsmith1202

        Re: As you seemed to be reviewing windows 10, whilst using 7

        Speaking as one who likes Win10's accessibility and detests the operating system otherwise, that's not a fair test. Try navigating quickly and smoothly through the PDF, try an image-based PDF, try using it without a screen at all for several hours, and you'll wonder why people haven't gone crazy yet, particularly with narrator.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As you seemed to be reviewing windows 10, whilst using 7

          >Speaking as one who likes Win10's accessibility and detests the operating system otherwise, that's not a fair test. Try navigating quickly and smoothly through the PDF......particularly with narrator.

          There's a reason (ADA etc etc) why at every point where MS use a PDF (invoicing etc) they also include a link to NVDA!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

      "The constant updates *will* break something that is mission critical for you"

      I've yet to have that happen on my machines, or other peoples that I would otherwise be fixing. And my computers are frankenstiened-beasts made of whatever components I had lying around, so I doubt they're a tested configuration.

    5. Def Silver badge

      Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

      The constant updates *will* break something that is mission critical for you.

      You're talking about macOS, right? Because you seem to have screwed up your punctuation. At first read, it looks like you're talking about Windows.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

      The demo, in this case, is much better than the reality. I use Jaws on Win7 as well, and would say the reading of PDFs on the Mac is far worse than Windows. With the right PDF file, everything works perfectly on both systems. With the wrong PDF, the Mac doesn't work at all. Seriously, if you're going to buy a Mac, make sure the return policy is ironclad as a blind or deafblind user. The screen reader is obviously developed by people who are interested in form and don't use it themselves, how else could they mess the details up so much and make everything look so shiny on a first look?

    7. RealityisntReal

      Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

      You're anti-windows bias is showing a little. I have always used Windows and have been using Windows 10 since about 6 months after it was released. Nothing on my computer has ever 'broken' due to an update - either hardware or software wise. On the other hand, whenever I have had to use an Apple device (iPAD or iPHONE someone else needed help with) nothing on it was 'intuitive'. It was like Apple deliberately looked at how both Windows and Android did something, then purposely did it completely opposite just because. Nothing was intuitive or easy.

      Unlike Apple, Windows has to support 10's of thousands, if not millions, of possible hardware configurations. An occasional issue is unavoidable. To say Windows is crap compared to iOS because of those occasion issues is showing a total lack of regard to the difficulty Windows is facing compared to iOS. Even when Apple totally controls the hardware their iOS updates still cause occasional issues for people with older hardware - so Apple is definitely no OS perfectionists. Their requirements are simplicity itself compared to Windows.

    8. Snorlax Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Colin, you have my empathy & sympathy.

      @Shadow Systems:"I very strongly suggest that you stick to Apple for as long as possible. Win10 is *NOT* for anyone that can't either repair their systems themselves or pay constantly to have someone fix it."

      "...And all this, this entire plea/rant is from someone still stuck on Windows 7 whom has used a Mac for less than an hour total".

      lol..."I've used a Mac for an hour, but I hate Windows 10 so much I'd recommend you go out and buy a Mac despite my limited experience with them".

      Jeez, this guy takes having a chip on his shoulder to a whole new level...

    9. MarcC
      Go

      I beg to disagree

      I've used Windows 10 on my two computers (desktop and laptop) since Windows 10 was released and didn't have any problems. Running version 1809 right now by the way.

      Reading aloud a PDF document on Windows 10 is very easy : just open it with Edge, right-click, then select "Read Aloud". This works surprisingly well for me (in French).

    10. MarcC

      You're a genuine expert, aren't you ?

      So your first hand experience of Windows 10 is nil, and your experience of Mac OS is ... a demo by a salesperson. Yet you feel entitled to pontificate on forums over how bad Windows 10 is and how wonderful the Mac OS is.

  2. Mister Pinky

    Just a thought?

    "While the software will continue to function, there will be no future updates or support, meaning Colin and others who have come to depend on Dragon for everyday activities will have to find another way to get things done."

    I know this is a pretty out there suggestion, but is there anyway they could, I don't know take advantage of the fact that "the software will continue to function" in the short term?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Just a thought?

      It seems that short term there is no problem, but the next time Apple depricates an API in a future version of macOS it might stop working and then it becomes a problem.

      1. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Just a thought?

        I have a "fully" working Win 7 system. It does exactly what I want and no amount of updates can break that - it is physically disconnected from the internet.

        Dipping your perfectly working Mac system in aspic, i.e. pulling the Lan cable out or disabling the machines internet protocols and such like, would leave you with a computer that works until the hardware fails from old age.

        In my set-up I choose to boot into win7 or Linux, and then pass data via a drive that I share between them. Obviously this can be cumbersome, if say I'm coding an Excel project that I want to email back to work, but the extra steps are a small price to pay for the security of a stable win7 system.

        I'm obviously mindful that stuff meant for the win7 system is checked for viruses while in Linux, and while this can't always be guaranteed to be 100%, the fact the win7 system has no way of communicating with the outside world, means any viruses that do make it through, have no effect.

        That said, I have no idea if a Mac can be booted into another OS, but surely you can at least disable automatic system updates.

        Best of luck with whatever solution comes to hand.

  3. tempemeaty
    Big Brother

    Quoted for truth

    "For people like me being able to control my Apple device by voice can make or break my day. Apple just doesn’t seem to get that and it isn’t listening."

    IMHO, listening to user's needs isn't one of Apple's strong points.

    ¯\_(。•́‿•̀。)_/¯

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Quoted for truth

      "listening to user's needs isn't one of Apple's strong points."

      Listening to user needs isn't the strong point of any company. They don't make their product for you, the consumer, rather they make it to put money in the pockets of the shareholders.

  4. Updraft102 Silver badge

    While wanting to keep control of what happens on their platform is perfectly understandable,

    Mmm. No, it's not.

    It's not about Apple wanting to control what happens on their platform. It's about them wanting to control what happens on other people's computers. Once a person pays the exorbitant amount of money to buy a Mac, it's not Apple's anything anymore, and what Apple wants to control is no longer of any concern on or regarding that Mac. Or it shouldn't be, at least. That Mac's job is to serve its owner, not its maker. There shouldn't be anything that's off limits to the owner of the machine in question, as far as its manufacturer is concerned.

    Maybe Apple users are okay with being told that they're not allowed to do certain things with their own hardware because Apple says no, but I'm not. Even if Apple is trying to control other people's computers for what would putatively be positive objectives (security, stability, preservation of UI consistency), it shouldn't be up to them to overrule the owner of the PC if he wishes to compromise those things for whatever reason.

    I guess that's the kind of thing Apple users sign up for, and why some of us have always avoided them. I'd rather deal with the issues of a system that is infinitely modifiable and configurable than to have to conform to the One True Way defined by the OS maker. The computer is here to serve me, so why should I have to conform to its preferred way of doing things rather than the other way round? Don't tell me I am holding it wrong; adapt to the way in which I am holding it! (I know that was about hardware, not the OS, but it's the same "do it our way" philosophy of Apple behind both.)

    Every user is not a total beginner who has not developed any habits or workflow preferences yet, and who needs to be protected from doing something stupid. It seems like everything's being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator... this is nothing new for Apple, but Microsoft seems hellbent on copying them on the desktop (which, of course, makes perfect sense, given that Microsoft has 90% market share and Apple has about 8%).

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Mm, yes it is. There's this thing called COPYRIGHT. See, it may be YOUR hardware, but it's still THEIR software (read the terms), and without the software, how will you run your hardware the way you want it? Happen to be fluent in x64 assembler?

      1. RealityisntReal

        The copyright is not what was being discussed. It was that Apple wants to control what users can do with their computers after they have bought it. Such as not allowing some programs to run, not allowing apps to be installed unless it comes from their app store (phones and tablets) unless the hardware has been jail broken, etc. Windows users have the freedom to do anything they want with their machines - upgrade graphics cards and other hardware, install any software they want, and if they don't like the OS they can replace it with another. It's telling that it is possible to run Windows on an Apple computer in a VM, but Apple won't allow it's OS to be run similarly on a Windows machine - why? Rhetorical question - it's because if iOS was available separately to be installed in a VM Apple would never sell any hardware.

        1. David Nash Silver badge

          Apple won't allow it's OS to be run similarly on a Windows machine

          I'm no Apple fan but I appreciate the fact that they are a hardware company using the OS and other software to sell such HW. Therefore it would be suicide to allow the OS to run on generic hardware.

          MS and Google are not hardware companies, and to the extent that they do sell their own hardware the strategy is generally the other way round from Apple, ie. the HW is there to get users onto the software and platforms.

          As I said, not an Apple fan but still considering going with Apple for a PC when Win 7 is no longer supported. MS have driven me off. Not an iphone though, there are limits!

          1. Anne Hunny Mouse

            Re: Apple won't allow it's OS to be run similarly on a Windows machine

            But Apple did allow their OS on generic boxes once.

            Before Jobs rejoined (and Microsoft invested to help bail them out), Apple kept themselves afloat by selling the Tanzania motherboard to beige box companies to make Mac Clones.

            At the time the Mac Mags recommended buying them over the Apple ones.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "The copyright is not what was being discussed. It was that Apple wants to control what users can do with their computers after they have bought it. Such as not allowing some programs to run, not allowing apps to be installed unless it comes from their app store (phones and tablets) unless the hardware has been jail broken, etc."

          And you're confusing the issue. If a computer user wants to do what they want with their machine, they simply need to install a freer-rein operating system like a Linux distro and go from there. Anything you're working through another piece of software (like Apple's MacOS), you're essentially at their mercy. No ifs, ands, or buts, it's part of their Copyright and laid out in their Terms of Use. If you don't like it, don't use MacOS, end of.

          If you want real, REAL control over your machine, perhaps it's time to go back to the build-your-own computer kits of the 1970s where you learned what really made the machine tick: since you see all the bits and bobs for yourself...and only had a KB or so of RAM to work with.

          PS. Last I checked, I cannot run a Linux program in Windows, so I CANNOT just run anything I want. Switching to Linux mans sacrificing access to Windows-only software, especially games, and keeping Windows means losing some control over the inner working of the computer to a proprietary OS. And since I lack the technical expertise to roll my own, I'm kind of stuck.

          1. conscience
            Linux

            @ Charles 9

            "PS. Last I checked, I cannot run a Linux program in Windows, so I CANNOT just run anything I want. Switching to Linux mans sacrificing access to Windows-only software, especially games, and keeping Windows means losing some control over the inner working of the computer to a proprietary OS. And since I lack the technical expertise to roll my own, I'm kind of stuck."

            Switching to Linux certainly does not mean losing access to Windows software, that is completely untrue just like all your uninformed 'Windows only software won't work on Linux' rants.

            And yes, this works even with games and now it just works out of the box. Ever heard of Steam Play?

            Valve are in the process of testing the entire back catalogue of Windows titles to run natively on Linux via Steam Play. The Steam Play feature uses Proton, an open source, Valve-enhanced version of WINE that is now built right into the Linux Steam client and which enables access to all Windows only games to run directly from Linux. Currently, turning on the Steam beta from the options gives you a large whitelisted collection of Windows games that have already been tested for full compatibility and which are already working fine on Linux. These games run natively using DirectX over Vulkan. You can also turn on the option on to allow all Windows software to install on Linux, even the as yet untested titles not on the whitelist, and all the ones I have tried so far work perfectly well. Any games that don't yet work will do very soon as Valve are working their way through their entire back catalogue of 'Windows only' games to test for compatibility which, once complete, will enable every single Windows game to run on Linux with no special configuration, technical knowledge or messing around required. All a user needs to do is click the install button exactly the same as from the Windows version of the Steam client. What could be easier?

            I've been having great fun doing so and playing all my so-called 'Windows only' titles using Linux Mint. Using Steam Play is no different from playing Windows games on Windows itself - except you actually control your own OS and hardware without any of the hassle that using Windows forces on people.

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Charles, your attitude is the perfect illustration of the problem.

        The terms? Have those been codified into law at some point? They don't mean anything until a judge says they do. If Apple put in the EULA that they reserve the right to break into your house at night and trash the place and take your stuff, do you think if they actually did it, a judge would just say "Well, he agreed to it, I guess it's fine," and dismiss the case against them?

        Obviously there's a line, and it's not "whatever Apple says." It's not "whatever Microsoft says." Even in the US, where the IP courts seem to be the enforcement division of every large corporation ever, there's a limit to what they can stick in the EULA and have it taken seriously. The more they push it, the more likely it is that someday someone will push back successfully. Ideally, the shrink-wrap license as a whole would be scrapped... dare to dream.

        Besides all that, I wasn't talking about what Apple could legally get away with. Did you see me suggest that Apple should be punished by the government for violating a person's rights to control their own hardware? No? Then the terms and conditions aren't pertinent. People keep bringing them up as if they are the very definition of wrong and right. They're not. I'm talking about ethics, not what the corporatocratic government thinks is fine and dandy. I'm talking about what is "understandable."

        When I buy something, it's mine. I can buy a Toyota Corolla, and it's mine. I can do whatever I want to it... paint it with a paint roller, take the doors off, drill holes in it, break the glass, thoroughly destroy it if I wish. I may not be allowed to drive it on the road, but I'm not harming Toyota in doing so, and they have no claim against me for any of it. It was my car to do with as I please, after all, even if all of the patents and trademarks still belong to Toyota.

        If it's my car, does that mean I own "the Toyota Corolla?" No, I own A Toyota Corolla. HUGE difference. If I own THE Corolla, that means I have the full rights to the trademarks and various patents involved in the vehicle's design. I would be fully within my rights to start building them on an assembly line and selling them.

        I don't have that right, though, just because I bought a car. I own my particular copy of the Corolla, and I may do anything I want with it as far as Toyota is concerned, but that's as far as it goes. I can't make them or collect royalties from those who do. I own one example of the item, not the intellectual property behind it.

        Software would be no different if copyright laws made any sense. I may not be allowed to make my own copies of MacOS and sell them to anyone, but it doesn't mean that the copy running on MY machine by lawful means rightfully belongs to Apple. That's some made-up crap that should never have been allowed serious consideration. And again, that's the legal definition, and I wasn't talking about that.

        So no, as I said, it's not understandable that Apple would want to control what happens on their platform, at least if you interpret "understandable" to mean reasonable and appropriate. It's understandable in the sense that Apple wants to eat their cake and have it too, but it's certainly not ethical in any sense of the word. If an OS doesn't recognize that its job is to serve me and me alone, it's not fit for purpose.

    2. anonanonanon

      People who work in IT vastly overestimate the abilities of people who don't.It's why Apple is hugely successful and IT types always take this line. I want my computer to do this and do what I want and anyone who says different is stupid.

      Apple made it so customers can mostly download app from the store and it doesn't do weird stuff to their phone, doesn't have complete access to all their data, doesn't let the really smart developer try stuff they really shouldn't be messing around with to get some super cool feature they figured out to implement in a hacky way that they know they're smart enough to implement, but will blame the user when it conflicts with some other "shitty app" that the user should have come to the engineer to to be told it was a shitty app.

    3. The Central Scrutinizer

      Absolutely.... sympathy to Colin. Those of of us with working hands probably can't properly imagine his angst at this decision.

      As far as having control over your own computer, I always thought that was a given. These days though, both Apple and Microsoft are total control freaks. When you buy hardware you are supposed to own it, not sign on for computer serfdom, being only allowed to do what the master allows you to.

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      If Apple didn't rigidly control their hardware, then they'd have a much bigger problem with malware etc. The whole point of the Appstore only allowing third party developers access to certain locked down APIs, is to avoid the problems on Android of an app getting access to all of someone's personal information (for example).

      People buy Apple because of the curated app model, so yes, it is perfectly understandable how much control they exert.

      As for Microsoft, they're trying to do the same with the Windows Store, but there's no way they can remove any of the (many) old APIs without wreaking the vast ecosystem of Windows software.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Orwell was off by 34 years...

        When this

        "People buy Apple because of the curated app model, so yes, it is perfectly understandable how much control they exert."

        gets trotted out as the reason why people purchase an Apple product, then Apple has failed in their original promise that they would not be Orwellian in nature.

        "If Apple didn't rigidly control their hardware, then they'd have a much bigger problem with malware etc."

        I think you mean;

        If Apple didn't rigidly control software development and distribution for their Operating System, then they'd have a much bigger problem with malware etc.

        There fixed that for ya.

        Developers should have the same access to APIs that the in-house Apple team does for producing software for the app-store.

  5. oldtaku
    Meh

    It'll still work fine - for a while

    Latest version of Dragon Dictation - which works fine - will still work, you just won't get upgrades.

    Once you can no longer acquire it legally, it's perfectly ethical to pirate at that point. Not legal, but 'legal' is corporate bought whoredom and there's nothing wrong with copying software they don't want to sell you. No harm is done.

    Of course, things tend to bit rot, so you might want a five year exit plan... if Apple hasn't rolled MacOS into iOS by then or otherwise killed it with neglect.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: It'll still work fine - for a while

      I suspect that come macOS 10.15, it won't run anymore because Apple will have taken away or blocked something it needs.

      Possibly there are already issues in 10.14 Mojave.

      Dictation software has to be fairly deeply hooked into the guts of an OS to work at all (let alone well), so it doesn't take much of a change to internals to prevent it from working with some or all applications.

      At a minimum it has to send keystrokes to any application, which puts it straight into heavily-trusted driver territory.

  6. stuartnz

    Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

    As a user of DNS on Windows for more than 10 years, and one who depends on it more and more, I can really empathise with his story. DNS is the reason I gave up trying to migrate to Linux, there was simply nothing that came close. And each release of DNS has got better and better. The reflexive "ditch Windows, it sucks" attitude of the initial comment here is to be expected from the El Reg crowd, but it betrays utter ignorance of how good DNS is, and how important is BECAUSE it's so good.

    I've had Win10 installed for more than 2 years now and have not ONCE needed "to repair their systems themselves or pay constantly to have someone fix it. The constant updates *will* break something that is mission critical for you" Not for me it hasn't, And my PC is "mission critical" because I work from home and would be stuck without a working PC.

    "I don't care HOW good DNS on Windows claims to be, it'll never hold a candle to the level of productivity you enjoy on a Mac" is, quite frankly, a STUPID thing to say to anyone who actually DEPENDS on DNS. If you need DNS, as Colin does, and as I increasingly do, your "level of productivity" will dive without it - whatever your OS. When you need it, you need it, and that's what makes Nuance's decision so devastating to its Apple user base, regardless of whose fault it is.

    I know that "Windows is 100% crap" is the orthodoxy here, as so ably preached by the first poster, and so I know that all disciples of that cult will downvote me for daring to be so heretical as to offer a contrary POV - even though it is one solidly based on actual real world experience and deep familiarity with the very software being discussed. So be it - "what say they? Let them say!"

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

      Shadow Systems wrote:

      Win10 is *NOT* for anyone that can't either repair their systems themselves or pay constantly to have someone fix it. The constant updates *will* break something that is mission critical for you & if you can't do the hurdle jumping to fix the MS fuster cluck, then you'll have to pay someone else to get you a working system once more. That will eventually leave you bankrupt so best not to even start down that slippery slope to hell.

      stuartnz replied:

      I've had Win10 installed for more than 2 years now and have not ONCE needed "to repair their systems themselves or pay constantly to have someone fix it. The constant updates *will* break something that is mission critical for you" Not for me it hasn't, And my PC is "mission critical" because I work from home and would be stuck without a working PC.

      ...solidly based on actual real world experience and deep familiarity with the very software being discussed."

      This is what you get when trading anecdotes to make IT decisions. Both people are correct according to their own, but very different experiences. Windows 10 certainly seems to polarise opinions, and I don't know if that is because Windows 10 is flaky on some hardware and not others, or there is some other determinant. However, it really needs some kind of independent reliable view, and I really don't know where that might be found. I'm not looking forward to helping some people with almost zero IT-skills make the transition from Windows 7 to 10 because I have no idea what the experience will turn out like for them, and by extension, me. I use GNU/Linux, and it works for me, but I don't prescribe it as an IT-panacea for all.

      I hope that those that need a good dictation solution find one that is workable for them. IT is meant to be able to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities, and all too often I see solutions offered that are expensive, difficult to maintain at any reasonable cost, and definitely not future-proof. Most people experience diminished abilities with age, and while accessibility seems irrelevant when you are young, it can become increasingly relevant, sooner than you might expect if you are providing in-family support for elderly relatives.

      Good FLOSS solutions for accessibility lag behind commercial offerings by quite a bit, which is a shame. I hope that changes in future.

      NN

      1. stuartnz

        Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

        "Good FLOSS solutions for accessibility lag behind commercial offerings by quite a bit,"

        If I could have upvoted your comment more than once I would have. When I was playing around with Mandrake 6/7 and learning to take the right side in the vim/emacs war (emacs OFC), I fell in love with FLOSS and would have ditched Windows in a heartbeat. Then my CP started to make itself more noticeable and I started to need using DNS (then around v7 iirc) more. It wasn't bad then, but was also far from great, especially with my thick Kiwi accent. But, it was the only game in town. FLOSS solutions didn't "lag behind" they didn't exist. I reluctantly gave up my dualboot setups and kept an eye on the situation over the years, as DNS kept getting better and better and better. For those who need it, there really is NOTHING else, sadly. I wish there were, but, afaik, there still isn't

        That's why the (ironic) lack of empathy in the original post irked me so. When one's hands don't work well enough (or at all, as for Colin), being smug about the awfulness of a non-FLOSS os is not a luxury one can afford. I just discovered yesterday that my version of DNS (15 Professional) is "out of warranty" which means Nuance won't help me if stuff goes wrong. That made me very irate, but the reality is, I will have to suck it up, and save up for a newer version to get the support I will need. Because for some of us, DNS is still not simply the best solution, it's the only solution.

        1. Spazturtle Silver badge

          Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

          "That's why the (ironic) lack of empathy in the original post irked me so. "

          I think you miss understood him, he was saying that Colin should continue to use DNS on his Mac even though it is no longer supported.

          1. stuartnz

            Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

            He did say that, but he also said, as I quoted originally " I don't care HOW good DNS on Windows claims to be, it'll never hold a candle to the level of productivity you enjoy on a Mac" - that claim could only be made by someone with no experience of how outstandingly good DNS is, and how it makes productivity possible when one's hands simply don't work. My productivity on Windows with DNS would be far greater than on an OS without i, such as the MacOS is apparently becoming.

            I am no fan of MS but I'm a pragmatist, and their OS is (now) the only one that supports a tool which people in my (and Colin's) situation need. So ranting about how how awful it is serves no purpose.

        2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

          I don't want to be an unsympathetic dick here, Stuart, but DNS development has to be paid for somehow. It's clearly difficult to do (otherwise there'd be FLOSS solutions), and the Mac market isn't large enough for them to work around Apple's lack of co-operation, so I'd guess they're not exactly rolling in cash.

          If it wasn't DNS, the only way to get a FLOSS solution would be, again, to pay for it.

          Also, vim is clearly better..

          1. stuartnz

            Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

            I have no problem with paying for DNS - none at all. Because I use it for work, I can even claim it against my tax :)

            My initial reply was simply in reaction to the almost Pavlovian "Windows? AVOID!" comment. For Mac users like Colin who need DNS, such advice is even more pointless than trying to help a sinner accept the superiority of the Emacsulate conception :)

      2. jsmith1202

        Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

        "Good FLOSS solutions for accessibility lag behind commercial offerings by quite a bit, which is a shame."

        In my experience, this isn't true. Good FLOSS solutions for accessibility do not exist outside of Windows, at least for blind users. I suspect, from having done research for a friend, that they do not exist for anyone who can't type, either. I would be absolutely overjoyed to be wrong in both cases.

      3. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

        @Norman Nescio"This is what you get when trading anecdotes to make IT decisions. Both people are correct according to their own, but very different experiences."

        One of the parties is far from correct.

        He's recommending a solution which - by his own admission - he has no experience of using, purely because he doesn't like Windows 10.

        As stuartnz suggests, it's cool to hate on Windows here at El Reg...

    2. PM from Hell
      Mushroom

      Re: Hc Sunt Dracones (AND Windows)

      As an IT literate PC user who spent literally thousands of hours supporting the families windows xp and windows 7 machines, often being called in to resurrect dead systems I would like to concur with the previous writer. At the point where I needed to replace my personal laptop it came with windows 8.1 which I did hate. I was on the verge of installing windows 10 when my brother in law ho is not at all pc literate bought the same machine, which by then was being built with windows 10. This lead me to upgrade my laptop to win10 purely to support him as the new UI was driving him scatty. I thought this would be a temporary upgrade but ended up staying on it because it was so stable.This is also the first machine my brother in law has had which has not required an urgent cross country visit to rebuild just before a crucial sales presentation. Having managed some small projects deploying both dragon naturally speaking and jaws the product combination does seem to work well for most visually impaired users. The PDF problem is not restricted to windows or JAWS. If the PDF or web page is created with visual impairment in mind both products work very well. If The PDF creator does not create an accessible file or web designed does not conform to W3C standards then both programs may struggle. Within larger organisations there does need to be a culture change to ensure that both these actions happen. I'm still regularly shocked by young developers who have never heard of accessibility standards.

  7. jake Silver badge

    At least it's mutual ...

    "While wanting to keep control of what happens on their platform is perfectly understandable"

    And that's why I don't buy into Apple products. You see, I want to keep control of what happens on my platform. Apple, quite frankly, doesn't play nice with others. Including their userbase.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: At least it's mutual ...

      Such are the joys of rapid release, if your platform is a moving target every year then you don't have control and your software requires constant maintenance.

      And Windows is no better as that changes every six months.

      I guess Nuance couldn't keep up with both of them and chose the platform which had the most customers.

      An OS's TTS API should be complete and as set in stone as possible, anything else is remiss.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: At least it's mutual ...

        You can't, because language (and the nuances of said language) is a moving target. It changes over time, forcing TTS and STT systems to adapt as well.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    So let me get this straight

    Microsoft is trying to become an OS ad broker and disrupt the user experience, Apple has turned into an abusive aunt who regularly invades your room to tell you how things are now, and Linux - the perfect OS platform that could do everything and do it right - is still unknown to the masses.

    How the hell did we get ourselves into this mess ?

    1. Lost In Clouds of Data
      Meh

      Re: So let me get this straight

      Imho Linux desktop (when talking about everyday users) is an uholy mess of distros, predefined software linked at the OS version level (requiring extra steps to sometimes break out just to get latest versions of apps) and CLI wizardry to perform many simple tasks.

      Linux server however is a glorious collection of distros designed for the folks who have a clue, tightly defined software repos and a huge amount of flexibility baked when one uses the command line.

      My personal belief is that Linux desktop failed because, despite the likes of Ubuntu and the like, it's still at heart a server OS. That's perfect for folks who need that, but both Microsoft and, to a lesser extent Apple, got it that first and foremost a desktop OS has to embrace idiots who barely grasp the concept of a context menu, yet alone drivers for printers.

      1. stuartnz

        Re: So let me get this straight

        "when one uses the command line."

        In my 4-5 year flirtation with various linux distros it was the cli that was the magic bit. Of course,that magic wears off quit quikly when you can't typ so god, or at al

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: So let me get this straight

      >and Linux - the perfect OS platform that could do everything and do it right

      But only if you choose the right distribution...

      Remember there was a time (not too long ago) when Canonical tried disrupting the Ubuntu user experience and follow MS and Apple... I suspect if Linux ever goes mainstream we can expect these disruptive influences to become more common.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Case law...?

    Will the Dragon x64 version work under emulation using VMWare Fusion...?

    Earlier posts make a reference to being hooked into the kernel, so maybe not.

    (I'm not a MAC usser (not since an SE/30, anyway).)

  10. WibbleMe

    For any platform can I recommend the web based Gsuite voice to text feature, I use this with the Docs all the time and find it very accurate.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMIphQM_YRE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGDELeDEWJ4

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Might be ok for dictation, but does it allow you operate the OS?

  11. Code_Daemon
    Trollface

    Apple: You are using it wrong...

    Clear people that try to use the build in stuff is using it wrong... You should be doing your best Tim or Steve impression.... and if that does work break out the Jonny Ive.

    Seriously, I am sure Apple are just trying to kill the apps from their non-BFFs with their changes in APIs. And it is shame that such an important tool is now suffering from it.

  12. imanidiot Silver badge

    I can imagine the pain

    I am very fortunate in not needing this sort of software myself but I've worked with people who do. I can only begin to imagine the amount of stress it can give knowing something you depend on to do pretty much anything productive can unfixably break sooner or later and the people making the software that you depend on pretty much giving you the finger.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can imagine the pain

      Indeed. Until recent surgery, I was visually handicapped and always kept a magnifying glass with me (to read messages in tiny fonts, whose size could not be increased). People without handicaps should never make judgements on what is suitable because of so many hidden assumptions.

  13. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "pick up where Nuance left off"

    That would be rather difficult. Nuance has been working on DNS for over TWENTY years (1997) and it shows.

    I use the Android Swype+Dragon keyboard, and the voice recognition blows anything else out of the water. It understands my (US) Southern accent, and co-workers with strong Welsh, Scottish, Australian, or Indian accents, even in a loud bar. Anything else just falls over 75% of the time. The stupid Google voice "recognition" is statistical garbage.

    1. stuartnz

      Re: "pick up where Nuance left off"

      " It understands my (US) Southern accent, and co-workers with strong Welsh, Scottish, Australian, or Indian accents, even in a loud bar."

      Yep - one of the things that quite frankly stunned me when I upgraded from 13 to 15 a couple of years ago was how quickly my DNS learned to recognise Panjbi names and Hindi words *in my Kiwi accent*. It really is the only game in town.

  14. roblightbody

    I'll never forgive Nuance for buying, then closing, the Swype keyboard. It was superb (they invented the flow method of text input on a phone), and despite trying various keyboards, nothing comes close.

    1. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Nuance also have a habit of suing small competitors and dragging out the case, it doesn't matter that they usually lose because in the US you don't pay the other sides legal fees.

  15. Someone Else Silver badge

    No...just no.

    While the software will continue to function, there will be no future updates or support, meaning Colin and others who have come to depend on Dragon for everyday activities will have to find another way to get things done.

    I very strongly empathize with the Dragon-on-Mac folks, but the above statement is simply not true. Colin will "not have to find another way to get things done," as the current version of Dragon, which is installed on his machine, will continue to function. So he, and others in this boat, will continue to be able to avail themselves of the current functionality of Dragon for as long as the dipshits at Apple don't create a new, weekly version of OSX that explicitly disables this program. (Yes, it is possible, and yes, Apple is quite capable of doing just that.) Heck, I'm still successfully using Windows XP on one of my home machines...and guess what? Even though Micros~1 "no longer supports" XP, damned if it doesn't still work!

    As a developer of both Windows and Mac software, I am fully aware of the problems inherent in creating cross-platform software. I believe the folks at Nuance when they say that Apple has locked them out of certain APIs that they feel are necessary for the full functionality of their product. Developing for the Mac is a hemorrhoid. Still many Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) from folks like Steinberg, Mark of the Unicorn, Cakewalk, Arturia, and many others seem to be able to make high-quality audio software that works on both Windows and Mac. Perhaps Nuance needs to hire (or at least, work with) some of these folks to manage their problem. The problem is admittedly difficult...but not unsolvable.

  16. Dave559 Bronze badge

    Apple are rolling in cash…

    Apple are rolling in cash, and, in theory at least, usability has always been one of their biggest priorities.

    I can see how a software application, and a particularly complex one at that, which is only needed by a minority of the user base, might find it hard to cover its development costs.

    Either Apple should do the decent thing and fund ongoing development (they'd never notice the loose change, even if they were so tight-fisted that it might cost a tiny amount extra when spread amongst all Mac purchasers), or accessibility laws should be tightened up to require all commercial OS developers to provide accessibility software at no extra cost (yes, that gives Linux a loophole, but in an ideal cooperative world it would be nice if there were a shared open source library that could be easily ported to all OSes).

  17. OnlyMortal

    Mac Developer here

    As someone who worked on ViaVoice OSX back early 2001 I just wanted to add that we talked about doing either a poseAs on NSObject or building our own input method. Unless something has changed since then, a poseAs could have been done system wide for AppKit (Cocoa) applications and we could have bootstrapped the reco code. We didn't pursue it as most applications were still ported Carbon legacy code.

    Also voice command control is a completely different thing to free voice recognition. I knew one of the chaps who worked at Apple doing their voice control stuff. If I recall, you could get their engine to work in your application with some coding (probably a mix of Interface Builder too).

    BTW, my Yorkshire accent was the reason that ViaVoice OSX supported a UK model - I even changed "color" to "colour" in the UI when UK English was activated.

  18. Anne Hunny Mouse

    Apple did allow MacOS on non Apple boxes.

    Before Jobs came back and secured investment from Microsoft (check the iMac launch event video), Apple kept themselves afloat by flogging the Tanzania motherboard with PPC CPU to beige box firms to make Mac clones.

    The Mac magazines at the time recommended them over the Apple ones.... (better price, spec and build quality)

    Apple were saved by relaunching as a lifestyle brand

  19. jbelkin

    That's why WIN is insecure

    that is why WIN is insecure - ANYONE can access whatever and of course, lazy developers make up their own rules and styles without adhering to mac standards. basically, they are lazy and are mad their menus have to follow mac standards and can't just be a round button in green.

    But the answer for this for anyone who knows anything about Macs - BOOTCAMP/PARALLELS lets you run any WIN OS ... in case you did not know, only Macs can run Mac OS, WIn, Linux and Unix at the EXACT SAME TIME. And with built in Mac accessibility with voice commands, they can boot in WIN or run parallels in a separate window. Amazing - of course it's been around for 12-14 years?

    You might learn a little about Macs - including that outside of security upgrades, you can run old Macs for a LONG TIME. I use my 2009 Mac as my video server.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: That's why WIN is insecure

      that is why WIN is insecure - ANYONE can access whatever and of course, lazy developers make up their own rules and styles without adhering to mac standards.

      For some of us, that first bit is not a bug, it's a feature. I'd rather deal with the security issues than have an OS who can't remember who it is supposed to be serving. If I am managing a site full of Windows PCs, I can lock them down too, but I can also unlock them and do what I need to do, whatever that may be, if I find the need. If I'm a home user, I can avoid 99% of the malware by paying attention to what I am doing (always a good idea anyway) and not using admin privs for everything. I can have programs like Classic Shell that rectify major UI blunders by the likes of Microsoft AND not have malware.

      If Macs work for you, that's great... I will never tell you you're wrong for liking them. I just can't stomach their attitude or the kinds of design decisions that follow from a "you're holding it wrong" mindset. That one gaffe just perfectly encapsulates the entire Apple view of its customers in four words.

      You might learn a little about Macs - including that outside of security upgrades, you can run old Macs for a LONG TIME. I use my 2009 Mac as my video server.

      You can run old PCs for a long time too. My 2008 Asus laptop still runs very nicely despite its age, and I'd still have 7 years of proprietary-OS security support on it if I was interested in running Windows 10. It runs Linux Mint now, but then so can a Mac. My 12 year old HP laptop struggles a bit more with less than 1GB of RAM and a single-core CPU, but it still works as well as it ever did.

  20. Ronen

    Suggesting a potential alternative for some use cases

    Hi, I am the developer of Speechnotes (through my company named WellSource...), which I myself use on mac... I think it can be really helpful for many, both the web app - to use on Chrome: https://speechnotes.co and the SpeechnotesX extension for Chrome, that enables dictation in any regular text box in any website. Which means, you can dictate in Gmail using SpeechnotesX (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/speechnotesx-voice-typing/oibmlbjklbogiccfokpgddgoleeiilid?hl=en). Hope this helps anyone...

  21. MisfitRoxx

    Nuance, and Android

    Greetings from across the pond. I've perused this website for years...since Xandros used to have a flashing news bar...and this was one of the news sites it culled stories from.

    I've used Dragon for work under Windows.

    It is indeed impressive software, but by no means the only software out there that is able to do voice dictation.

    I use my Android phones as dictation devices, and by and large, they are more accurate than Nuance has ever been.

    Just a thought.

  22. kenny0305

    Alternative Options

    Maybe the subject of this article could consider a work around? I personally use VMWare Fusion with Windows 10 and Windows 7 VM's to enable me to use old software I have previously purchased which is no longer compatible with latest versions of Max OS. From the article, I understand this may be a complex endeavour for the user in question but could extend the life of the software without the need to move to a new machine. Yes, you are dependent on an OS which is not the preference but it does allow you to continue to use the MacBook for other tasks.

    I prefer to maintain the option of using the right tool for the right task rather than through all my eggs in a single vendors basket.

  23. JulieM Silver badge

    Time to change the law

    It's time we had a law that any prohibition against reverse-engineering of any software product be lifted, the moment its supplier ceases officially supporting it.

  24. nsmurali

    I wish Nuance seriously pursues supporting the Linux platform . We urgently need this to work in Linux. IBM Viavoice was purchased and killed by Nuance. It was a lean and ideally suited for VRT in Linux. Time to make Nuance available on Linux. It will change the industry and create a formidable challenge to both Apple and MS products like the user unfriendly office 365, which has become a productivity joke.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

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