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A New Android App

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Like most smartphone users who've been using the same platform for a while I've now pretty much run out of new things to install. But today a discovery of a neat thing which I thought I'd share as it solved a problem which other people might have too, if in a slightly different way.

Beth's away a lot at the moment working on WalkLakes so we communicate a lot via SMS in the day time. Now if I'm at home that's fine as I've got my glasses on and I can see the screen on my phone but if I'm out walking Jack, as I am twice a day, and the phone beeps to tell me I've got a new text I have to stop, get Jack to sit, get out my glasses case, get them out, put them on, get my phone out, and read the text. I reply if I need to and then I have to reverse the process.

Often Beth will then reply so I end up going through the whole procedure all over again.

Read It Loud! Yesterday I was looking at a big black cloud heading towards me as the second text came in and I was thinking to myself "there's got to be a better way". And there is.

Read it loud! SMS Reader Basic is yer friend. You need a text to speech engine installed but my phone came with the standard Google engine already installed, if not you can take your pick from the app store. Once you've enabled it then when a text comes in the usual new text beep is sounded and it then reads out the sender's name, if it knows it (presumably the sender's number if it doesn't) followed by the message.

I've only had text from Beth and Asda Mobile so far and I've been very impressed with the Google text to speech engine. It makes a pretty good fist even when it's guessing e.g. "kes-wick" and you can always understand what it's saying.

So now when I get a text from Beth I get to listen to it in my headphones (as I'm normally listening to a podcast on my phone) and then I know if I need to reply or if it can wait until I get back home.

If you prefer you can get the app to only say who is texting you, which may make more sense if there are privacy issues, but I can see that other people might value this app if, say, they're stuck in the car a lot.

The only other problem I found with it was setting the volume (which was very high). It turns out that the trick is that you need to set it while the speech engine is running, so you either need to wait for a text to come in but that only gives you single shots at it or do what I did and install another app which uses the engine and use that to play with it.

Tags: Android Written 12/05/14

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