Android apps that speak to you

Jul 8, 2010
Tech

The ability of smartphones to truly become our personal assistants is becoming more of a reality, thanks to their ability to talk to us.  From tweets to flash cards, Android apps are finding countless ways to integrate text-to-speech, making us more productive and able to learn. Here are some Android apps that really talk to […]

The ability of smartphones to truly become our personal assistants is becoming more of a reality, thanks to their ability to talk to us.  From tweets to flash cards, Android apps are finding countless ways to integrate text-to-speech, making us more productive and able to learn.

Here are some Android apps that really talk to you.

Google talk

Google’s Eyes-Free Project has a range of free Android apps that support speech recognition. The apps, which include a comic viewer, are free, and work with native and third-party apps on your phone. Pet Android, for instance, responds to your voice commands to carry out various device actions, while Talkback reads aloud almost any text.

Google Maps, the free tool that is a default app on most Android devices, added voice navigation not too long ago.  Now, you can have turn-by-turn directions spoken to you as you drive.  There are no fancy voice effects, but the app works smoothly and gets the job done quite well.

Productivity and education

A fun learning tool for the little ones is Preschooler.  The $2.37 Android app features flashcards to teach children the alphabet, with an engaging game-like format.  There are five levels to work through, along with your choice of a male or female voice to help your child along.

The Voice is an ambitious app that combines sonar with the live camera, speaking to the vision-impaired so they know what’s in their immediate environment.  The free app creates an augmented reality, reading aloud signs, describing certain objects (including color), and even integrating a live chat feature.

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For 99 cents, you can have your tweets read to you with TweetsAloud.  Hear the latest from your stream, and hear what your friends are talking about.  The app will keep quiet if your phone is on silent or vibrate, so you don’t have to worry about any tweets disrupting your meetings. Developers Pwn with your Phone have several other speech-enabled apps, including Talking Calendar.

Star Translate is a dictionary and translator, and the app can be used to help you get by in a foreign country or learn a bit about a new language.  The free app supports 44 languages, and is speech-enabled. Star Translate will also convert text on your phone as well as  SMS messages, making you an international superstar.

Games and entertainment

The Word-Player book reader has beaten Amazon to the punch, offering an app add-on that supports text-to-speech. Free, the app acts as a library for your catalog of ebooks, with speech options to have many titles read aloud to you.

Make funny and absurd stories with the $1.99 LOL Libs Android app.  Similar to MadLibs, the fill-in-the-blank stories can be fun for individuals or a group of friends.  When you’re done creating a story, have it read back to you.  Then save it, and share with friends across the social web.

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