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Choosing dictation apps for writing? Compare Pages, Google Docs, and Word on an iPad

I plan to test out more apps on more devices, but for now I’m starting with three apps that I have on my iPad: Pages, Google Docs, and Word.

Since I don’t have access to a third iPad, my first comparison of dictation using online word processor apps included:

  • the Pages app on an iPad Pro (11-inch) (3rd generation),

  • the Google Docs app on an iPad Pro (11-inch) (3rd generation), and

  • the Word app on a Dell desktop (Microsoft 365) (Windows 10)

I wanted all the apps open and dictating from the same thing—me reading my blog Can Your Creativity Trust You?

My first impression of the Word dictation was less than enthusiastic. But I wanted to give Word a fair evaluation and maybe the problem was the mic on the computer that I used to test the desktop app. So I did a second reading and compared:

  • the Word app on an iPad Pro (11-inch) (3rd generation) and

  • the Word app on an iPhone 8

Here's what I found...

Comparing dictation apps for writing

#1 Pages

Bottom line: Ill use Pages

It added decent punctuation for the most part. Putting in question marks without me saying it. The recording shows that it missed the first question mark, but the numerous test dictations prior seemed to include it with no problem. Im sure it was me.

The Pages app comes with your iPhone, iPad, and most Apple devices. There is currently no Pages download for PC.

The Pages dictation on iPad

Comparing the original text to the Pages dictated text. The blue highlights indicate I misspoke. The red highlights are mistakes by Pages. Most issues with the dictation on Pages were incorrect punctuation to indicate end of sentence. Again, that could be related to my delivery. Other mistakes included missing possessive indicators, mistaken verb tenses, or confusing verbs and nouns. For example: you instead of your and answered instead of answer. Only two words were completely wrong: I did instead of idea / head instead of had.

Comparison of the blog text and the Pages dictation

Comparison of the blog text and the Pages dictation

It was interesting that Pages initially had written Blocked instead of Blog on the second sentence. It wasnt until midway through the next paragraph that it corrected to Blog.

#2 Google Docs

Bottom line: The dictation was almost as good as Pages.

There isnt any major difference that I can point at to explain my preference for the Pages app. Maybe its just because the iPad is an Apple product and Pages feels a little more seamless and intuitive than the Google Docs app. I think the next evaluation I would try is Google Docs on the desktop and a tablet that isnt an Apple product.

The Google Docs app is accessible on any mobile device, tablet, and computer. Google Docs is free for most users.

As you can see in the video below, I dictated using the dark theme, but when I exported the document as a PDF, it reverted to a light themed background. It wasnt a problem for me. Just FYI.

The Google Docs dictation on iPad

Having looked at the mistakes in this Google Docs dictation, which were similar to Pages, I wonder if I was the common cause of many of the mistakes. My enunciation may not have been clear enough. Dictation takes practice for both the speaker and the app.

Comparison of the blog text and the Google Docs dictation

Comparison of the blog text and the Google Docs dictation

#3: Microsoft Word

Bottom line: I wont be using Word for dictation on any device

All three Word apps (desktop, iPad, and iPhone) got some words right that Pages and Google Docs didnt. But the complete lack of punctuation at the end of sentences makes the editing much more difficult. I tried to make a clear pause. Id rather correct a few words than figure out whether a phrase is part of the previous thought or the next idea.

The Word app on iPad shut down a third of the way through the dictation. Definitely not a good sign. What would happen if I was on a roll and didnt notice the app had stopped? Just as scary as when your writing isnt automatically saved and you lose power. Yikes!

The Microsoft Word app comes with your Microsoft 365 subscription and works on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets. If I didnt need it for work, I wouldnt pay for Microsoft 365, and I wouldnt have the mobile app capability.

The Word dictation on desktop

The Word dictation on iPad

The Word dictation on iPhone

Comparison of the blog text and the Word dictation on desktop

Comparison of the blog text and the Word dictation on desktop

Comparison of the blog text and the Word dictation on iPad

Comparison of the blog text and the Word dictation on iPad

Comparison of the blog text and the Word dictation on iPhone

Comparison of the blog text and the Word dictation on iPhone

More Options

Sometimes you need to Plan for What If situations, or maybe you can no longer write how you used to due to physical challenges. Start evaluating and determine which of the many dictation apps for writing youll use. Here are a few options and how-tos:

Resource Roundup:


  • Evaluate your apps for dictation. You never know when you might need it.


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