IBM brings ViaVoice to Mac OS X

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First demonstrated at Macworld New York this past July, IBM today released ViaVoice for Mac OS X. The new version takes advantage of Mac OS X technologies and gives previous users a couple of ways to upgrade to the OS X version.

IBM has taken ViaVoice to the desktop with this newest release. Users can now enable common tasks, use AppleScript, open files and open applications, all without touching the keyboard. ViaVoice can also now be used with any text-based application, not just with Microsoft Word or IBM's own dictation software.

In addition to bringing Finder voice commands to OS X, the ViaVoice product team set out to optimize ViaVoice for Apple's new operating system.

"ViaVoice does take advantage of Mac OS X and its multi-tasking capabilities -- it's a wonderful operating system from that perspective," Toby Maners, Manager, Consumer Voice and Pen Segment, IBM Voice Systems told MacCentral. "There are several instances in ViaVoice where it's useful to be able to do multiple things at once."

Is ViaVoice built in Carbon or Cocoa? Yes. Apparently, the folks at IBM mixed and matched the two APIs to fit the task they were trying to implement. "It depends on which feature we were implementing. We used Carbon APIs in one place and Cocoa in some others," said Maners.

Several specialized vocabularies will be included with ViaVoice for OS X including computers, business/finance, chatters jargon and cuisine. In addition, separate legal and medical language modules will be available as separate products.

If you haven't moved to Mac OS X, but you still want to try ViaVoice, don't worry. IBM is leaving older versions of the product on the shelf and may even ship more versions to retailers if demand warrants such a move.

"We are leaving the two previous products in the marketplace because there are still customers who are using the older operating system and are not necessarily upgrading," said Maners. "We want to make sure if they want to try ViaVoice they can."

ViaVoice will be available directly from IBM for US$171, which includes a USB microphone. The application will also be available from the Apple retail stores and other retailers. IBM is offering two ways to get the new product: if you own the original ViaVoice with an analog microphone -- you will need to purchase the full product, fill out a rebate and send it to IBM. The second version of ViaVoice has a USB microphone included -- you can buy an upgrade directly from IBM, which includes the CD and users guide, but no microphone. More details about the rebates are available from IBM -- please contact them with any questions on qualifications for either rebate program.

System requirements for ViaVoice for OS X include Mac OS X version 10.1; G3 300MHz or higher; 192MB RAM (256 RAM recommended); 600MB of available hard drive space; USB port; Audio output jack or USB speakers; CD-ROM or DVD drive.

IBM notes that ViaVoice for Mac OS X is optimized for the G4. Power Mac G3 and PowerBook G3 systems introduced before August 1998 are not supported -- G3 systems upgraded from older machines are also not supported. ViaVoice has been designed to take advantage of the Extended File System (HFS+). Installation of ViaVoice for Mac OS X in a UFS volume is not supported.

This story, "IBM brings ViaVoice to Mac OS X" was originally published by PCWorld.

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