Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Speak up!

Today's Tech Gospel is about TTS (Text-To-Speech) apps for Android.  Specifically, my favorite one.  SayMyName Dessert.

One of the capabilities of Android that I never thought I'd find a use for was their voice capabilities.  I've had this on my computers since the early 90's when Creative had it in their first SoundBlaster.  It's cute at best, annoying most of the time.  Mac has had these too, and I have absolute hatred for it since whenever I heard the "Excuse me.." it usually means a program hung.

When I tried it on Android, it was something that was a "show-off" app.  But I found an app that suddenly made it indispensible!  Say My Name Dessert is a TTS app that speaks whenever a call, SMS, or Email comes in.

How can this be any more useful than just a regular alert tone or mp3?  Well, it's most useful in the car.  For calls, it tells me who's calling so I know if it's for work, or not.  Not much of a big deal there.  The real help is with incoming SMS.  Not only does it tell me who the message is from, it reads the entire contents of the message.  Why would I want to hear the whole message?  Well, if you're driving, you can identify important from unimportant messages.  If you had texted someone for directions, a return SMS would be read to you.  Or if spam text (we get a lot of those here in the Philippines) comes in, I know I don't have to check my phone and reply anytime soon.  This feature alone has proven invaluable.  The last feature on SayMyName is the ability to read the sender and subject line of incoming emails (AFAIK, this only works with K-9 Email).  Not as critical (for me anyway) as it's SMS capabilities, but it keeps me from glancing at my phone often.

SayMyName is not the only TTS app for Android however, there are a lot of them out there, but it's the only one I found that integrated calls, sms, and emails.  If all you need is one, there are other apps that will be just as good.

I think voice capabilities of Android have started to reach a practical level already.  This simple feature has helped increase my battery life as well, since I no longer keep glancing and checking my phone for possible emails, or sms that I may have missed.

TTS on Android also supports accents, this means that even though the app language is in English, the voice will read it with either a British, American, French, German, Italian, or Spanish accent... picking a language other than the language being texted makes for an extremely hilarious (and unintelligible) voice alert!  Hehehehe!!!

Past Tech Gospels

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