iPhone App Review: Voice Reader Text To Speech

iPhone App Review: Voice Reader Text To Speech

July 24th, 2011 by

If there is anything we can learn from the final closure of the remaining Borders Books stores, it is that we hate reading. Eye strain, use of your brain’s left hemisphere, learning: the list of annoyances attributed to reading actual words yourself goes on and on. So why not let your best friend do it for you?

Voice Reader Text To Speech for iOS devices is a new app that reads any text to you in one of 32 voices spanning 21 languages. You can copy and paste text into the app or drag text in using iTunes file sharing feature, then play back or email the resulting audio file. It can also play the audio files in the background while you multi-task.

How It Works

The standard version of the app includes an online voice only, which means that while you can paste unlimited text into the entry box the app will only convert the first 3000 characters (and there is some disagreement on this: the app tells me 3000, but the info on the App Store listing says 2000). The resulting audio file is downloaded to your device, where you can listen to it, save it, or email it to others. You can save text independently of the audio file, select smaller portions of a larger text for conversion, and through in-app purchase you can download any of the voices for use off-line, which means you will no longer be held to the 2000/3000 character limit when converting.

The app includes several sample texts in a few different languages, and has a mountain of settings to adjust the app to your liking. You can change text font and font size, adjust the audio format and quality, and adjust playback speed and pitch to your liking.

Pros And Cons

I will say one thing up front about this app: the quality of the vocal playback is amazing. While nobody will ever confuse this for being an actual person, the vocal tones and inflections are amazingly listenable. I was quite pleased listening to 3000 characters of text from a favorite story of mine.

While the quality is great for a machine-generated reading it will certainly not replace a professionally-recorded “book on tape”-style experience. The app however is well suited to reading aloud long passages of text for other purposes: as a study aid, reading aloud long passages so you can take notes as you listen, reading aloud to you as you workout, even for studying pronunciation by listening to text read in another language.

The 3000 character limit is rather small however, and having to purchase an offline voice after you’ve already paid for the app itself feels cheap. I think offering a free offline voice download with the app purchase would be a great idea, even if it means raising the price of the app to account for the price difference. People willing to pay $1.99 for an app like this would almost certainly pay $2.99 with an included choice of offline voices, and wouldn’t feel like they were being shaken down for money on an app they’ve already paid for.


Voice Reader Text To Speech is an app that fills a niche for those wanting tracts of text read aloud to them. The vocal quality, when compared against other automated text reading software on any platform, is amazing and highly listenable, and having a choice of reading 21 different languages is quite frankly mind-boggling. If you want to improve your hands-free productivity then it is definitely worth a look.

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