Google Docs for dictation plus hundreds of pictures?
June 10, 2024 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Hi! I have a tech-averse friend of a certain age who needs to generate reports with potentially as many as several thousand photos with associated descriptions. There is a proprietary software that generates the reports from the raw material of text and images. She has an employee who uses this proprietary software. This question is about her gathering the raw material.

Currently she is using Notes on her iPhone to dictate notes and store photos. Notes is not appropriate for many reasons--chokes with more than a few hi-res photos, does not sync reliably, bad webapp, limited to iPhone users--so she needs a substitute. I can tell you that Notes is not appropriate because I am RIGHT NOW trying to extract info from her notes made in Notes.

Before I send her to Google Docs, does anyone have first-hand experience with using a single Google doc to store, say, 200 photos of about 4 MB each, along with their text? Does it crash? Are there other options I haven't considered? Cost is a consideration, but for the purposes of this question, let's ignore it.

Thank you!
posted by 8603 to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
It will be slow. Enabling "Make Available Offline" will speed it up with the cost of a longer sync time upon first open (or zoom change using the drop down). Images will load async as you scroll but if they scroll slow enough it will try to load most of them - scrolling will not be smooth while that's happening but presuming a decent (32+ GB) available RAM for Chrome it will eventually calm down and be pretty responsive as long as you're not resizing text or individual images. Text editing will be generally snappy but I haven't mixed this with Voice Dictation which is moderately resource-intensive.

Source: maintaining healthcare documents with hundreds of scanned document pages and snapshots embedded and work reports with hundreds of Precision-Recall curve graphs auto-generated.

It won't be great but I don't know of a better shared solution.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 7:14 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

If she’s primarily going to be using the phone to gather the material: the Google Docs apps on my phone and iPad regularly choke on long text-only documents for me. I have a 75k word document (255 KB) that I regularly have issues with. I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve tried lots of fixes and eventually switched to 1Writer for phone writing (while saving in Google Docs to access on web browser) for this reason. I assume it would do poorly with a lot of photos but don’t know for sure. Don’t have firsthand knowledge of other options unfortunately as 1Writer is markdown only and doesn’t support images I’m pretty sure.

Maybe look into Dropbox Paper?
posted by brook horse at 7:19 PM on June 10

Could she store the photos in Google Drive and then put the notes next to their file name or an identifier? Like instead of pasting into notes, she follows the set of taps to put into Drive, and then writes “porcupine425: robust porcupines spotted in the Nunavut wilderness in 1957, photo taken with Brownie camera” in Notes.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:43 PM on June 10

You don’t mention how tech-adverse this friend is or how much you can be involved with the solution. Would a blogging or social media type app be a possible solution? Such as a private Wordpress site where your friend would use the Wordpress app to load in a photo, add the caption/description, hit post, move on to the next one.

Alternatively, there are apps designed for quickly sending (yourself) an email, about half of them seem to support multimedia (photo/voice notes). One of those could be set up with a dedicated email address.
posted by itesser at 8:28 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

You can get around a lot of the tech-averse-ness with macro keys... but you'll be programming them with AutoHotKey on the PC side or the MacOS equivalent (forgot the name).

There are color scanners that you can just drop photos into the autofeeder, and the result goes into the network. With a little bit of a macro that triggers the scan, and records a short passage with voice to text, it may be possible to simplify this to a single keypress (or a foot pedal if you want to go THAT far)
posted by kschang at 12:39 AM on June 12

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