IVONA Text-to-Speech HQ review

IVONA Text-to-Speech HQ replaces your Android device's text-to-speech voice with a variety of high-quality synthesized voices for a variety of languages and regions. The Web-based app and its voices are free while in beta development. IVONA includes instructions for changing your Android device's text-to-speech options, and help and video tutorials also are available.


Many voices, one device: IVONA includes speech engines for American, Australian, British, and Welsh English, as well as Spanish, Polish and many other languages and accents. Most of IVONA's voices are female, but at least one male voice (Italian) is available.

Natural accents: … Read more

We chatted with Siri, for real, and weren't frustrated with her answers (Q&A)

It's been a whirlwind week for Susan Bennett. She's been talking to a lot of people she doesn't know -- including reporters like me, when I called to interview her this week.

But talking to a lot of strangers is not exactly new for Bennett.

She says she's the voice of Siri, Apple's voice-recognition personal assistant app -- the one that talks to millions of iPhone and iPad users, and elicits a specific type of passion when users talk about how frustrating the service can be. (Apple, of course, in its steel-trap ways, would never … Read more

Eight features that a 5-star GPS navigator should have

There was a time when all that a GPS device needed to do was get you from point A to point B -- preferably alive and in one piece. Over time, we began to expect so much more. We wanted hands-free calling, syncing of contacts, large databases of local destinations, and traffic data. The bar for what counted as a good GPS device had to be raised.

That bar is still rising, faster yet and higher than ever now that GPS navigators must compete with smartphones and tablets. Simply getting from point A to point B isn't enough when … Read more

Voice behind British Siri goes public despite Apple warning

Former technology journalist Jon Briggs has revealed himself as the voice of Siri in the United Kingdom, despite a warning from Apple to keep silent.

In an interview with the U.K.'s Telegraph, Briggs outed himself as the voice behind Daniel, the name given to the U.K.'s version of Siri. iPhone 4S users who change Siri's language in iOS 5 to English (United Kingdom) can hear the actual voice, which naturally carries with it a slight British accent.

Briggs spilled the beans even after a call from an Apple PR rep who told him not to speak publicly about Siri, … Read more

iSpeech app puts your words in Obama's mouth

It was inevitable.

Text-to-speech company iSpeech has released a pair of smartphone apps that tap the actual voices of President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush to allow you to convert any text into audio that's a dead ringer for the president or former president.

This could take phone pranks to an entirely new level.

The free iSpeech Obama and iSpeech Bush apps were released last week, and are designed to show off what the company's text-to-speech technology can do. The apps are available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. iSpeech also sells its technology to other companies.

That anyone can make the former president's voice say anything, while satisfying in a certain sense, is a little unnerving. That anyone can do the same for the sitting president is downright scary.

Want to know what your graduation speech would sound like if the president spoke it? Now you can, and worse. Check out the video below to hear for yourself.… Read more

Waze navigation app updated with text-to-speech, commuting widget

Waze, one of our favorite free GPS apps for Android and iOS, gets a version 2.4 update today that adds text-to-speech guidance, a commuting widget for the Android app, and a host of smaller improvements.

The biggest change is the addition of a text-to-speech (TTS) engine powered by Nuance that adds spoken street, exit, and highway names to its turn-by-turn directions. Users will also receive spoken alerts as they approach road hazards reported by other Waze users. TTS is currently only available to Android and iOS users in the U.S. and Canada, though there are plans to roll … Read more

How to install and use Mac OS X Lion's high-quality speech voices

One of the features of OS X Lion that was discussed early on in its development was the updated text-to-speech technology that not only brings much more natural-sounding voices, but also has options for dialect and accent support for various regions of the world. Since early in the Classic Mac OS, Apple has supported text-to-speech technology, with very basic and robotic output that has improved over the years, but with Lion the technology takes a relatively major leap forward.

The system ships with some default voices, including the long-standing novelty ones such as laughing, whispering, bells, and alien voices, but … Read more

iPhone text-to-speech, speech-to-text patents filed

A patent filing shows Apple has come up with a solution for answering the iPhone in a crowded bar or in the middle of a meeting.

Patently Apple yesterday published Apple's multipart solution, which shows the iPhone using speech-to-text and text-to-speech technologies to help people who find themselves in these situations communicate more easily.

The patent calls for a microphone to monitor the ambient noise level in a room, while a noise meter would display it on the phone's screen. When the noise level hits a certain level, if the phone rings, the user can answer using several … Read more

MynaTime: When Mac's 'Alex' becomes my trainer

Say you're into yoga, but you have neither the time nor the money to make it to actual yoga sessions regularly. Or you're a cyclist who'd like motivation beyond music in your ears. Or you're trying to do weight training without having to glance at the text on your phone every minute to see what's next.

You might consider MynaTime, the personal workout assistant software announced Monday that gives users the ability to type in specific workouts.

The application--now available on Amazon.com for $24.95 for those with Mac OS X versions 10.5 (… Read more

How Roger Ebert found his new voice (Q&A)

Roger Ebert's search to recapture his lost voice uncovered a company with a unique technology.

When the famed film critic needed to find a way to communicate after losing his voice to cancer surgery, he turned to text-to-speech (TTS) software that speaks whatever he types. But the TTS software he initially tried sounded too robotic and computerized. He wanted a voice that sounded like him. That's when he discovered CereProc, a Scottish company that builds electronic voices. Using someone's audio recordings, CereProc's technology can stitch together an entire digital voice that sounds like the actual person.… Read more