Speech Central: Web Text to Speech

Once upon a time I used an app called VoiceBrief, I loved it! But it was buggy, often crashing and it never got updated before finally disappearing from the App Store. I have recommended the likes of ‘Capti’ and ‘Pocket’ to learners to curate material and listen on the go (we always have places to go and listening on the go can increase productivity) but I have never come across any app that came close to VoiceBrief, certainly some could read web pages but I never found them able to read from social media and certainly not effectively. Fast forward a few years and I  am commuting more than ever and consuming so much audio media I have been finding it more difficult to access new content having exhausted most material. The app allows you to listen to key headlines and then, when interested, add the headlines as articles to read [out] in full later, with the app highlighting the tezt as it is read out. The app is straightforward and does not have a big learning curve, but what really appeals to me is how much you can customise the app – including the voice and controls.

The developer States that “The app is tested to be accessible by visually impaired users. It has many features specifically tailored to users with disabilities like integrated Bookshare service, support for DAISY books, dyslexia friendly font, many visual settings, keyboard shortcuts for the most of commands available (with various options to navigate the text) in the app and on the iPhone it can be controlled with headphone or Bluetooth hands-free buttons and functions of those buttons can be customized. Combined with the interactive web feature available in the app the latter may make the web much easier to access on the mobile device for a person with eyesight or related disability.”

The ability to skip and add articles via the remote is an excellent feature and really increases the usability of the app.  This is an app that I feel is going to really play a key role in my commute once I return after the summer break, or for anyone that can take the opportunity to consume content on the go and not just for the accessibility benefits the app offers.

Here are the app store pages for Speech Central:

The App Developer has provided me with this product for purposes of providing a personal review and I have received no payment for this unbiased review.

Advertisements

Chirp

Chirp

A novel and interesting way to share content comes along in the form of Chirp, in the form of an App and as ‘Chirp for Chrome’, enabling you to share via audio your files and websites. An end to having to post URL’s to virtual learning environments or having to write on the board and hoping you get it right and learners do too? a method to move from desktop to mobile relatively seamlessly? or maybe just a lot of noise [sic]?

  1. find a site
  2. open chirp on mobile device (so it is listening)
  3. open chirp on desktop (have your audio turned up)
  4. click the chirp yellow button with the  “lightning” symbol

Most things such as PDFs or images can be saved to you device. Shame I cannot push websites to my browsers on my iPhone and have to remain in Chirp (I have certainly looked to see if I can on an iOS device) but the app is in early development. I also cannot send a site from my iPhone to Chirp for Chrome as it does not have a listen function currently – one to watch maybe?

Update: the above post was written without actually trailing in the field. This however has now been able to take place by chance rather than planning…

Working with Apprentice Learning Technologists I needed to discuss a number of videos that I had been given a link to a YouTube playlist. Unfortunately due to being at a different campus I had no phone near the desktop pc’s I could use and I really did not want to dig out my laptop unless necessary. This is where chirp came in – I installed the chrome extension, fired up my chirp app on my iPhone, chirped the link – I was then hotfooting it to a side office with phone where I could discuss points as I went through the playlist. Seamless.

 

Andy

AmazonBasics 3.5mm Male to Male Stereo Audio Cable [4 ft / 1.2 m]

Amazon Cable

I finally got annoyed with having to insert the Headcandy Hesh 2.0 lead in and having to pull it back by about a millimetre due to the extra mic connection not allowing an immediate good connection to the PC/Blue-Yeti. The headphones need a slim plug so I thought I would opt for an Amazon basics lead, as I haven’t been disappointed with any of their own range. The stepped collar is great for iPhone and iPads with cases on and the plug is slim enough (just) to not cause problems with the Hesh 2.0’s.

Cable feels slightly more rubber than plastic and does not tangle. The collar immediately preceding the plug is about 6mm diameter and is about 3mm in depth from plug to silver collar with Amazon basics branding. overall plug length is about 40mm with a solid “bung”to the cable. 1.28m tip to tip.

This stereo audio cable (3.5mm male to male) transmits audio in stereo format

  • For connecting a smartphone, MP3 player, or tablet to car stereo or portable speakers
  • Works with any device equipped with a standard, 3.5mm audio jack or AUX-in port
  • Bevelled step-down design; gold-plated plugs for reliable, static-free performance
  • Length: 4 feet (approx. 2.44m); comes with an AmazonBasics 1-year limited warranty

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NO73MUQ

 

Andy

Ringr Mobile

Recently I was starting to look into recording a long distance conversation, Skype was the most common medium with various recording options but no clear winner. Enter Ringr Mobile for iOS, a free high quality call recording app, where the only effort is to sign up. Once signed up and logged in you can start a new conversation by entering the email of the person you wish to speak to, set a date & time and a message.

Update: Having talked with the developers I have now tried it on a iPhone 5C and the date & time are editable, it is an iPhone 6 Plus (iPhone 6 untested) issue. It is strongly advised to put in the details of the date, time and focus of your recording if using an iPhone 6 Plus as this is the only way your collaborator will know! I am informed an update is on its way, hopefully this will be fixed. 

Once you have sent the invite out you will see a list of initiated requests containing the email address and the time you requested. So to the developers I ask that the initiate screen asks for…

  • Name (emails can be obscure or not well known)
  • Email address
  • Date and time of suggested call (to be set by user iPhone 6 Plus issues to be corrected)
  • Message (topic)

A future feature would be to enable suggested date and time changes from the invitee if suggested timings are not convenient. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic app, the pay-off comes with the fact that you then have your conversation (the invitee receives a code to put into their iOS device) and on termination have the ability to download the audio that comes in four MP3 128kbps flavours…

  1. Mixed (mono)
  2. Mixed (stereo) with one participant on the left channel and the other participant on the right
  3. Interviewer (mono)
  4. interviewee (mono)

The grief that you can save, particularly if you are looking to have captured evidence of a phone conversation for assessment. I hope the developers keep up the great start they have done with this app. Definitely one with huge potential for evidencing and it claims to be is coming to android. Keep an eye out here – http://www.ringr.us/

Update: The Developers recommend keeping app open whilst audio uploads

Andy

Volume OSD – 3RVX

My keyboard has died, and my spare does not like the fact that my current desktop, for some obstinate reason, will not install any dot net framework from Microsoft since v4.0 despite my best efforts. This has resulted in the lose of my volume OSD (On-Screen-Display), and do I miss it!

It did not even cross my mind to look for an alternative for a few week, however much I missed the OSD to my annoyance. Then I stumble on 3RVX, from Matthew Malensek, a highly customisable solution. Happiness restored.

If you have never had a volume OSD you must try this (I am running v2.5 whilst v3 is in final development), you’ll wonder why you have been checking the system tray all this time!
http://matthew.malensek.net/projects/3RVX/ 

Andy