I was talking to a friend early this morning about what I’d like to see in an RSS reader app. As a truck driver, I’ve got endless listening hours. I want an RSS reader app that can use text-to-speech and read articles to me in a non-stop fashion.
To my surprise, my friend told me that such an app already exists in the iTunes App Store. It’s called RSS Talk. It comes pre-populated with a variety of different mainstream RSS feeds, in addition to the ability to manually add feeds of the user’s choosing. RSS Talk sells for $1.99 and has very positive user comments. I immediately downloaded the app and gave it a try. It really does work as advertised! The female voice is very clear and natural. It does a great job of just reading the article and completely avoids reading non-article elements that most text-to-speech schemes end up reading such as formatting tags.
This is one of those rare apps that brings the best elements of hardware and software together in an easy-to-use app form. Once it is started playing there’s no need for human intervention. It makes the perfect reading companion, enabling me to listen to all of those RSS feed articles I’ve been subscribed to for years but rarely have time to actually read.
This app is a buy!
There’s a free Google Mobile App that I found in the iPod/iPhone app store that I decided to give a try.
On loading it for the first time, I immediately noticed the “Voice Search” button I’m used to on my Android smartphone. In Android, the “Voice Search” is incredibly useful. Google’s voice recognition works by making a short recording of a verbal search query and then immediately sending the data to Google’s voice recognition servers, which do an amazing job with voice to text. The recognized text is immediately sent back to your device, and the device responds appropriately.
The Google Mobile App also includes quick access to many other Google services, such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Talk, Reader, etc. The app includes a number of other settings such as privacy, the ability to do push email notifications, setting the level of safe search or turning safe search off completely, etc.
Google’s voice recognition is astoundingly good. It’s worth loading the Google Mobile App on an iPod, iPhone or iPad just for the purpose of wowing others with it.
I’ve been using Android for a while now and feel I’ve been using it long enough to make some meaningful observations.
I like Android. It’s quick. It’s powerful. It has some astounding voice recognition capability built right in that even the iPhone can’t touch. For example, hold down the search button and when the voice search box pops up say “navigate to” and then speak either a street address, the name of a business or a business category, and watch what happens. The results are something right out of science fiction and nothing short of amazing. Try THAT with your iPhone.
In other areas, Android seems to fall rather flat. While it’s possible to create, name and populate folders, the process seems clunky and rather counter-intuitive.
How about allowing me as an end-user to rename application icons to something useful? Many apps have names that don’t bear any relationship or give any hint as to what their functionality is as an app. If I could just rename the text under the app icons it would help me out as an end user quite a bit. Either give me a direct icon name that describes functionality succinctly, or give me the ability to rename an icon myself just like I can in Windows or OS/X.
Another area that falls somewhat flat is how to discover great apps. There are a ton of apps, but it’s often difficult to find the best ones. I’m willing to spend money on apps, however I want the best bang for my buck. How can I be assured if I buy an app I’m buying the best possible one?