I’ve praised the Voice Dream e-reader as a stellar way to enjoy text to speech of files in ePub, HTML, plain text, Word and other formats.
Other apps offer TTS. But Voice Dream Reader also comes with wonderful navigational and annotative capabilities as well as a rich assortment of voices. It’s integrated with DropBox, Google Drive and EverNotes, and you can even download to it directly from Project Gutenberg
Now—some great news: Voice Dream Reader for Android will enter Beta in a few days and should be in the Apple Store at the start of August.
If Winston Chen, Voice Dream’s developer, wants to make a Beta copy available to me, I’ll check it out and share the details when he approves. A possible catch is that Winston truly, truly hated my write-up of a just-released product. The headline was accurate and needed: Safety alert: Voice Dream Mail Pro app is better for the visually impaired than for drivers barreling down the freeway.
That said, my love of Voice Dream Reader itself endures. Now Winston has added to Reader’s considerable allure with the inclusion of Sharon, a female voice from Acapela in fairly realistic U.S. English. I tried it, and it’s well worth the $4.99 I paid to add it to Voice Dream. “You have to hear it to believe it,” Winston writes. ”It is a big download at 400 MB and it takes more computing power to run it than other voices. You need to have iPhone 5S or above, iPad 3 or above, and at least 800 MB storage available for downloading and unzipping.”
In other good news, Voice Dream has taken on Michael Scott, full time, for such purposes as working on the Android version of Voice Dream Reader. Next on the list? Well, my own wish is that Voice Dream offer inter-device, inter-platform synching so you can effortlessly resume where you left off in the book you’re reading at the moment. The addition of Adobe DRM also would be good. I dislike DRM, but I’d love for library patrons, especially those with disabilities, to be able to use Voice Dream when borrowing books. This would also expand the range of retail choices. Still, the sooner we can replace the existing reader-hostile DRM with either social DRM or no DRM for retail purposes, the better. DRM in effect turns an open format like ePub into a proprietary one. But enough on that. Check out Voice Dream if you have not already.
Detail: Of all the voice available to purchase within the Voice Dream app, the U.K.-accented Peter remains my favorite. For me at least, he sounds even more natural than Sharon.
And another detail: I consider the Reader to be safe for driving. I use it then, and also at times when exercising. Listening to an e-book does not offer the same level of cognitive distractions that the composition of e-mail does.