SpeakText for Office FREE 20.0 Review

Bring documents to life by translating or reciting text aloud.

At first glance, SpeakText for Office FREE seems like a redundant app. It uses text-to-speech technology to read what is onscreen, either in the original language or translated. Of course, the iPad and iPhone come with text-to- speech software, so what purpose does this app have beyond centralizing it into a single space? For the most part, the text-to-speech functions are efficient, but the restrictions with the free version and high cost of the upgrade lessen this app's usefulness.

The free version of SpeakText for Office has limitations on the number of sentences you can have spoken or translated. For a document-focused app, this is a problem since you are likely to have more than a two to three paragraph document in need of translation. Additionally, the ads are intrusive and the interface is messy, failing to take advantage of the ample screen space provided by the iPad. The core functionality of the app is decent, though. The text-to-speech function works as intended, and the updates download quickly. The translate feature is as accurate as you might expect using Web-based translation tools, which often fall short of being perfect; but you can still get the basic meaning of the translated text.

While SpeakText for Office FREE has quite a few shortcomings, not the least of which is the segmentation of its features and high price tag for upgrading, it does go beyond the core functionality of the text-to-speech tools included in iOS 6. If you don't need translation, however, you would do well to stick with the tool Apple already offers.

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