Voice Dream Reader for Mac now available: how I think it compares to my app Speech Central

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macOS and Mac Apps

After the beta testing Voice Dream Reader is available now for the macOS. This is the link to get the app from the Mac App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/voice-dream-reader-for-desktop/id972112040?mt=12

One unexpected twist is that it now requires 5$ monthly subscription.

For those that find this as a steep price my app Speech Central costs only 9$ for unlimited lifetime use on macOS and on iOS it is completely free when used with VoiceOver. And overall it has more features than Voice Dream Reader. If you decide to get my app you can get it also on the Mac App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/speech-central-text-to-speech/id1223093645

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Comments

Submitted by Quin on Thursday, April 28, 2022

Note that this isn't actually the official release, hence why we weren't notified by the developer. The official release is happening on Monday.

I really don't get all the people getting upset by the subscription. I use Voice Dream for hours every day, so 5 dollars a month for a tool I depend so heavily on isn't bad at all. It's all situational, though. Not everyone uses Voice Dream that much, but still. That's less than half of a Dropbox Plus subscription, or a YouTube premium subscription monthly, so...

Submitted by Labsii on Thursday, April 28, 2022

Voice Dream Reader is a really good app. It is also reasonable for people to want to pay for a good app.

In the capitalism you are also free to price the app anyway you want it. It is legal.

I am just saying that my app Speech Central delivers more at 100x lower price (on 15 years time scale). That means you get almost one MacBook Air for free just for picking another app without any sacrifice. It is also sustainable as it is nearly for 8 years on the market. My app is free for the iOS when used with VoiceOver so you can check whether my claims are correct or not. I believe it is worth for anyone to try both and make the best choice for himself. I am quite sure that some people will pick Voice Dream Reader. That's why competition is great, there is the space for everyone and users get more in either case.

Submitted by Maldalain on Thursday, April 28, 2022

Hmmm
Not going to purchase it, already happy with Speech Central. Also I have the script to extract texts from PDFs which is also good. Not bothered by the price, but wondering why it is not a one-time purchase.

Submitted by Labsii on Thursday, April 28, 2022

As there is official explanation you can read it here: https://www.voicedream.com/macos-reader-subscription/#more-3862

In short Voice Dream will be subscription based for all new products. It is not clear what is happening with the iOS version. Technically you cannot convert the paid app to the subscription based app unless you ask everyone to pay again and that won't happen. However it is not clear that there won't be the new iOS subscription app launched instead. We'll see, he is probably testing the waters with this and doesn't want to disclose that at this point.

Submitted by Quin on Thursday, April 28, 2022

I'm saying this as a programmer, someone who writes code for a living. You paying $20.00 once, 5 years ago, doesn't pay the bills now. If you want long-term support/updates on a piece of software, I believe it's more then reasonable to pay yearly/monthly for it.

I haven't seen speech central, and am admittedly now a bit curious, but honestly needing to barge into other discussions about Voice Dream to advertise your product is already giving me a bad feeling about it. Like, oh here's this new piece of software, etc etc, followed by what's basically an ad for your own product. Probably a pretty cool product, but I don't think this was the place for that. That said I will at least try it.

Submitted by Malthe on Thursday, April 28, 2022

I feel like a competitor announcing the release of the product and using the opportunity to criticize the business decisions of the company in question is a little weird.

Best
Malthe

Submitted by Labsii on Thursday, April 28, 2022

I am not sure exactly where did I criticize the decisions? I have just quoted the facts and their official documents and presented my policies for the same things.

This is a usual practice in many industries, for example business-to-business sale is frequently performed this way - you approach the clients of another company and try to win them by presenting a better offer. There is really nothing unethical in that. It is less frequent in consumer industry, but even there TelCos, banks and insurance do that in some cases.

It is really hard to comment subscriptions in general way like Quin did. For example YouTube subscription is technically necessary as they need to pay fees to content owners and server costs. It is similar for Dropbox. It is technically impossible to sell it any other way.

It is much less frequent to sell software without some services as subscription. But even then it is not the same if you convert your pricing so that you receive your previous price in few months or in few years.

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Thursday, April 28, 2022

Greetings!

I did want to pass along the following page which may calm people down hopefully:

https://speechcentral.net/speech-central-vs-voice-dream-reader-vs-speechify/

As for app subscriptions...
if folks want to support Voice Dream's upkeep going forward, no one's stopping ya. If folks wish to take the Speech Central route (which by the way does also have an Android app which is supported on Chromebooks and is free for Talkback users)), cool beans!
NB. There's also a Windows app in the Microsoft Store, just as an FYI.

I mean hey,
https://ulysses.app/
is 5 USD per month and no one's complainning...
Labsii did post a thread about making Speech Central the default browser on IOS if ya so wish to do so awhile back, and no one caught on to that it seems.
An there's nothing wrong with having choice, so why complain?
Labsii was just letting folks know that there is an alternative out there for those who wish to use it.

Submitted by emassey on Thursday, April 28, 2022

By the way, Voice Dream Reader also has an Android app that works on ChromeBooks, although it is not owned by the same company that makes the iOS apps anymore. It is $9.99, and unfortunately you still have to pay for it even if you pay for the iOS app. It includes the Acapela voices and seems to work with most services the iOS app does including Bookshare, although it does not have cloud syncing and the Voice Dream website use to say it lacks some features, although that could have changed. It seems to work well with screen readers, although I have not tested it very much yet. It is called Legere Reader, and there is also Legere Scanner for OCR although no Legere Writer. I am not sure how it compares to Speech Central because I have not tried that app yet.

Submitted by techluver on Friday, April 29, 2022

As for me.
I've never been a fan of subscriptions of most kinds. Especially for apps, I really prefer to pay once and use.
Now granted, I'm not saying that people shouldn't be compensated for their work. I bought VoiceDream many years ago and continue to love it to this day.
But if they go to a subscription model, I'll be really disappointed and will probably end up going the speech central route.
Of course let's not even talk about the number of voices I have purchased for various reasons in VoiceDream over the years, I'd. probably be out like $35 or so at the end, but ah well such is life.

Submitted by techluver on Friday, April 29, 2022

OK.
I just took a look at the official explanation.
I can say that there's one thing in there that struck me. It's the line that says that this only applies to new products going forward.
It seems like the products we already bought will remain the way they are. So basically if you own it now, you'll have it.
Now, I don't know how that stacks up for new customers. The way I read it, if you own it now, you can use it forever, but he may change it so that new customers that want to buy in later may need to buy in on a subscription model.
note: This is how I personally am reading it, and I have no information from the author beyond what I read in the blog post linked to above.
With that said, I'd say if you want to buy in on the IOS version without a subscription, I'd do it sooner rather than later.
I've been using Voice dream reader for IOS since 2012, and I find it to be a phenomenal product.
I did also peak to see if an M1 Mac user could download it on the iPhone and iPad app section but it looks like that's disabled. Might be possible to side load that in the future but I'll leave that to others to figure out.

Submitted by Labsii on Friday, April 29, 2022

This is advice for voices on Android (as emmasey mentioned that), though you can apply it to the Mac and Windows too and hopefully in the near future you will be able to apply it on iOS.

If you buy voices buy them on Google Play, not in the app. Buying the voices in Google Play means that you can use them with any application including that you can use them as Talkback (Android term for VoiceOver) voice. Further more you are not limited to what app offers but to what Google Play offers. While it comes down to personal preference and habits I think that CereProc voices are better than Acapela and it seems that lot of people are in line with this as they have much higher ratings on Google Play.

As said both Mac and Windows have this capability too, just at the moment such voice apps cannot be provided through the Mac App Store as they need more access to the Mac than what the sandbox offers. But you can purchase them directly from vendors on their web sites (e.g. CereProc is available on all platforms).

Unfortunately iOS doesn't have this capability at the moment. It was reported that Apple has started to work on that at the iOS 14 time frame. Hopefully there are good chances that such improvement may be released this year. If you consider this as important (and it is really the only major thing where iOS lacks in accessibility comparing to Android) you may want to send feedback to Apple: https://feedbackassistant.apple.com/

Also it is very likely from the technical point of view that once Apple releases this for iOS it will soon be able to provide vendor voices on Mac through its App Store.

Submitted by Quin on Friday, April 29, 2022

I bit the bullet, and bought Speech Central for Mac. I think it will serve some needs of mine, but I still also plan on keeping Voice Dream. Fairly well thought out piece of software. Well done, developers. I still stand by my original point though that coming here, announcing a competitor's product release followed by advertising your own feels kinda meh. That would be like The IconFactory creating this post about Tweetbot 6 being released, talking about the subscription, then saying, use Twitterrific, you can tweet without a subscription. IMO release announcements aren't a place for other companies to promote their products, but I digress. Both great apps.

Submitted by Adam Samec on Sunday, May 1, 2022

Hello,

Speech Central might b cheaper and more feature rich than Voice Dream Reader, but what matters as well is the overall user experience with the application. For me the killer feature of Voice Dream Reader on both iOS and macOS is the possibility to easily navigate back and forth by sentence, bookmarks, certain amount of seconds, etc while playing. In Voice Dream Reader for Mac, it is as easy as pressing Command + Left arrow or Command + Right arrow. Also the voice rate can be easily adjusted while playing wit keyboard shortcuts.

If the above mentioned features were available in Speech Central, I would consider buying it. But for now, Voice Dream Reader on both iOS and macOS feels more user friendly to me.

Best regards
Adam

Submitted by Labsii on Sunday, May 1, 2022

If you want to provide negative comments on Speech Central, I would appreciate that you use it at least for 15 minutes before doing that. It is completely free on iOS when used with VoiceOver as said above.

Further I am aware of the reality that Voice Dream is a stronger brand and that some people might not want even to try Speech Central. I am not happy for that but that is the reality of the consumerism and modern time. People don't have too much time and that they tend to rely on trusted brands and there is no one to particularly blame for that.

But there is no reason to make false statements without trying Speech Central just because you love Voice Dream brand. That is really not fair.

If you have installed Speech Central on iOS you would find that it is better in that particular field that you wanted to mention as the reason to use Voice Dream. So Speech Central has all those options but they are overall more accessible and there are even more of them (like that you can activate spelling of the current sentence). If you have the keyboard on iPad you can use keyboard shortcuts to access them even on iOS. You can use audio buttons on stock EarPods or AirPods to activate them. And that can be customized. Clearly on the macOS there are keyboard shortcuts for those ever since.

I can try to find one particular thread on this site where user has asked for alternative to Voice Dream Reader and after I have suggested Speech Central he has bought it (it was paid on iOS for everyone then) and in the further discussion he explained to other users why it prefers it for some use cases over Voice Dream. Among the things that he has mentioned there was that Speech Central is better designed. I am not sure if that will be the impression of every user out there as this is somewhat subjective, but this user has tried both apps and he came to that conclusion.

Submitted by AppleVis on Sunday, May 1, 2022

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

*Moderator's note: the title of this topic has been changed to more accurately reflect the nature of the first post and the direction the discussion has been taken.

Submitted by Adam Samec on Sunday, May 1, 2022

Actually, I had tried Speech Central on iOS before posting the comment above, but had not found the feature I was describing. Could you please provide a guide on how to easily rewind by sentence, certain amount of seconds or other unit while playing?

If that feature is truly available in Speech Central, I must apologise, but if it is, it is certainly not so intuitive how to use it.

Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Labsii on Sunday, May 1, 2022

I apologize too - while the fact that you provided isn't correct it is quite different if you have tried. Then really there is not a word that I can put as a complaint except to correct what was wrong.

This function is available and it is provided in multiple parts of the app.

1. iPad keyboard shortcuts list is available with the standard system shortcut to display those shortcuts in every app but clearly it requires iPad keyboard so it might be interesting to everyone
2. In the Navigation Panel (called from the reader screen) those commands are listed under 'Seek'. If you are VoiceOver user you might just want to use this panel if you expect to frequently seek in the text.
3. If you long press 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons in the player you will activate the context menu with those commands
4. In the Settings under 'Button Functions' you can set those commands to audio buttons. As such you may customize the default function of Previous and Next button displayed on the screen (on the iPad or in the landscape on some iPhones there are also Seek back 30 sec and Seek forward 60 sec buttons that can be customized this way) and that way also customize what you do by calling those functions from EarPods/AirPods. Also those commands can be assigned to the Volume buttons on the device/EarPods by performing the gesture quick volume up/down or down/up.

Finally on the Mac this is listed under Playback menu and there are keyboard shortcut listed there too.

Submitted by Adam Samec on Monday, May 2, 2022

Okay, thanks. So, in Speech Central for iOS settings, one can customise the functions of the Previous and Next buttons and assign, for instance, navigation to the next or previous sentence functions to those buttons. That's great and good to know, but if I compare this to Voice Dream Reader on iOS, still Voice Dream Reader's user interface feels more comfortable to me because of the following:

  • In Voice Dream Reader, to change the navigation unit, e.g., to sentence, 15 or 30 seconds, or bookmark, one does not need to go to settings and perform multiple gestures. It can be easily modified just by swiping up or down on the Navigation unit button present on the screen while playing.
  • In Voice Dream Reader, navigating back or forward by the given navigation unit is as easy as swiping up or down on the Play/Pause button. This way, one can have the VoiceOver focus stay on the Play/Pause button all the time and be able to perform all the frequent playback control functions just by double tapping to pause, or swiping up or down to rewind back or forward. In Speech Central, to achieve that, I have to find the Previous or Next buttons on the screen.
  • As opposed to Speech Central, in Voice Dream Reader, there are not just two speech rate levels, standard and high. In Voice Dream Reader, the speech rate can be easily modified just by swiping up or down on the Audio settings button which is also always available on the screen while playing, letting the user to easily choose from many speech rate levels on the go.

I think it's good there is a free of charge alternative for Voice Dream Reader in the form of Speech Central, but these are just a few reasons why I think some people may prefer to pay for Voice Dream Reader. So please take this just as suggestions how to improve Speech Central.

Also, Labsii, I would like to give a try to Speech Central for Mac. But before buying it, could you please confirm keyboard shortcuts exist there for navigating back and forward by sentence or other unit as in Voice Dream Reader for Mac?

Submitted by Labsii on Monday, May 2, 2022

I truly appreciate your feedback. I was not aware of that functionality to swipe up down on some icons. I understand that it is useful and as such it might be essential for some users. Thanks for letting me know about something like that as I haven't seen reference to that functionality in Apple's VoiceOver documentation for developers. I am very interested to implement similar functionality in the future.

I also understand that some things are highly individual but I would like to provide some further clarification regarding them.

- In that particular use case when you want to switch from your usual unit of navigation to the bookmark (which is quite realistic use case), I don't think that Voice Dream is particularly more efficient. There you need to go to the navigation unit menu, pick the bookmark unit, go back to the play button do the swipes and then go again to the navigation unit menu to pick your standard navigation unit. If you want just to go to the next bookmark in Speech Central it is as simple to going to the Next button, opening the context menu and picking Next bookmark. If this would require multiple back and forth navigation then you can open the Navigation Panel/Seek (that subpanel will be opened automatically if you were there before so it doesn't require additional actions) and from there you can do that fairly efficiently. The fact that you don't have to set back to your original unit saves quite a lot of swipes. Voice Dream may save with that swipe gesture, but again it is highly unlikely to be much more efficient in any use case and in some use cases it may be even notably less efficient. Finally you can assign this to volume gestures so that quick volume up down and quick volume down up performs next and previous bookmark. In that case Speech Central is extremely more efficient and clearly it is also extremely more efficient if you attach iPad keyboard.

- I have studied quite a lot user behavior and statistics and I am confident that this is the best solution for most users, though it doesn't necessarily needs to be the best solution for everyone. Having two customizable speeds that you can quickly switch allows you to go very quickly between those two speeds if we talk about efficiency. Also Speech Central does have speed up and speed down function for those who need it. They can be called from the speed context menu so you don't have to go through settings for that. If you need something more efficient than that again this can be assigned to volume gestures too and iPad keyboard shortcuts are available out of the box.

Speaking of the Mac version I can confirm that there are keyboard shortcuts for all those functions. One thing to note is that in the current version if you want to use them and especially if you use the VoiceOver it is better to keep the sidebar closed (which displays chapters, titles, annotations, recent positions) when you are not using it. The problem is that supporting all Big Sur functions required splitting code in several parts and at the moment commands only work when the reading part has the focus.

Submitted by Tayo on Monday, May 2, 2022

Hi:

Would you consider providing a tutorial or downloadable manual for Speech Central on Mac? I've downloaded it and sometimes can get books to play, but the interface confuses me.

Submitted by Labsii on Tuesday, May 3, 2022

In the help menu there is a short tutorial that points to this web page: https://speechcentral.net/speech-central-macos-help/

It doesn't particularly refers to VoiceOver users. I believe that for the VoiceOver users most convenient method to open the item should be to select it and then use the attached keyboard shortcut from the Playback/Play menu.

Some users that already use VoiceOver with Speech Central may correct me as I am not everyday VoiceOver user I just do some testings as a developer.

Submitted by Labsii on Tuesday, May 3, 2022

There is a new version of the iOS app published few moments ago.

Per great user suggestion above The app now has VoiceOver gestures on play and speed buttons. That means:

If you swipe up or down when the play button has the focus the app performs forward and rewind functions. By default that is skip forward 60 seconds and go back 30 seconds, but it can be customized to move across sentences or paragraphs and some other units in the Settings.

If you swipe up/down over the speed button you will increase/decrease the speed.

I’ll be happy very to hear for some more great tips like this!

Submitted by techluver on Tuesday, May 3, 2022

I think I would consider getting this if my IOS and Mac OS positions would sync up within voice dream.

Submitted by Adam Samec on Tuesday, May 3, 2022

First, Lapsii, thanks for the super fast feature update. The possibility to rewind by swiping on the Play/Pause button is a big help. Here are some more questions and suggestions:

  1. Where can I please find a list of hardware keyboard shortcuts for Speech Central for iPhone? And where can I find the same for the Mac version?
  2. Actually, changing the navigation unit to bookmarks is not very realistic scenario in my case. Rather, I more often switch between sentence and 15 or 60 seconds, and don't use the new navigation unit only once but several times before I switch back to the previous navigation unit. Regarding bookmarks, I prefer the show bookmarks feature to find the bookmark that I need. Anyway, since you have already added the swipe up or down functionality for the Play/Pause button, I no longer need to switch the navigation unit, that's great..
  3. I suggest reversing the behaviour of the swipe up or down gesture for the Play/Pause button. Swipe up should be same as rewind, and swipe down should be forward. This is more intuitive and also how it is in Voice Dream Reader.
  4. You wrote: "If this would require multiple back and forth navigation then you can open the Navigation Panel/Seek (that subpanel will be opened automatically if you were there before so it doesn't require additional actions) and from there you can do that fairly efficiently.". I don't understand this explanation. In my case the navigation panel is always there. Can you pleas elaborate more on that possibility to open/close the navigation panel and how it saves some gestures?
  5. In Speech Central settings, a lot of options require first to double tap on the given button, then find the editable control at the bottom of the screen which then can be modified by swiping up or down. It would be much more easier and intuitive if one could change the value directly on the given button by swiping up or down on it. If this is a problem, then at least don't use that editable control at the bottom of the screen, but instead open a new screen with ordinary toggle buttons for each option, similarly how it is in system Settings.
  6. One more confusing thing is that in the "Buttons functions..." screen, the available items are announced by VoiceOver as text fields, whilst in fact these should be announced as buttons.
  7. Under the "Buttons functions..." section in Settings, I don't understand to which software or physical button or key does the "Language" button correspond. In general, I would welcome a more detailed documentation about how to remap button functions.
  8. I have assign the "Previous sentence" function to the "Quick volume up/down" button, but when I press the physical Up or Down volume button on my iPhone SE, it still changes only the volume, and does not navigate to the previous sentence. In any way, however, I am not very inclined towards changing the default function of the volume buttons as I use them quite often when travelling where I need to adapt the volume based on my actual surrounding.
  9. Is it possible, and if so then how, to assign different function to the "Quick volume up" button and another function to the "Quick volume down" button, or both buttons must have the same function?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Submitted by Labsii on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Voice Dream syncing is based on the iCloud files storage, there is no technical limitation why it wouldn't work on the Mac version of the app.

I can confirm that you can sync reading position on Speech Central between Mac and iOS (it uses iCloud too, but the method is CloudKit which is more advanced).

Submitted by Labsii on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Adam, I am very happy that you have continued with your feedback, it is very useful.

1. On the iOS you can hold the command key until the list of keyboard shortcuts appear. I think that Apple has implemented that only for iPadOS, though I have never tried what happens if you do that on the iPhone. Clearly those shortcuts will work on the iPhone too, but at the moment I don't have any other list than the one that Apple provides automatically.

On the macOS all keyboard shortcuts are listed in the menus.

3. While I don't think that there is definitive answer on that, all my thinking points out that the current implementation is correct.

When I say that there is no definitive answer I refer to the fact that the scrolling with mouse wheel is performed differently on the Mac and PC. And I am quite sure that all Mac users will say that Mac way is intuitive while all PC users will say that PC way is intuitive as they got used to it.

According to Apple's documentation it should be implemented this way. Swiping up is meant to provide the 'increase'. Increase is going forward not going back.

Further if you perform the scrolling without VoiceOver, you swipe up to move the content down, I think it really makes sense that VoiceOver gesture is the same.

Finally if we agree that the speed should be treated this way it is really more logical that the gesture for speeding up is the same as gesture for moving forward than if it was the same as moving backward.

4. I just refer to the fact that the selected tab in Navigation panel is remembered. If someone hasn't noted that he may be under impression that he needs to change the tab always which would make it harder.

5 and 6. I agree that those actions could be more optimized for VoiceOver. Unfortunately until iOS 15 Apple hasn't provided the control known as combobox (Windows) or popup-button (Mac) and this was usual way to provide such functionality through built-in capabilities of iOS. It was working like that even in Safari until iOS 15. I am not sure how it worked with VoiceOver as Apple could make some additional optimization, but visually it worked exactly like this. While this design in the app is likely to be subject to changes (one possible option would be to use those new iOS 15 controls but then it must wait for the moment when I am ready to drop the iOS 14 support) I can implement VoiceOver swipe up and down gestures on those controls in the next version. It will be out next week.

7. This is a bug. On the screen there is the proper text, in VoiceOver it should be "Quick volume down up". It will be fixed.

8. Quick volume up down (and down up) are gestures. It means that you press the volume up and you need to quickly press volume down after that to activate it. It is similar to double click - it is unlikely to interfere with your clicks.

9. Quick volume up down and volume down up can have different functions.

Submitted by Adam Samec on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

1. The display of keyboard shortcuts by holding the Command key is not available on iPhones. It would be really nice if you could document the keyboard shortcuts for both iOS and macOS somewhere. This would make a more complete image of what one can do in the app and how, and would help with the decision whether to try the app or not.
3. My strong point is that when you use a hardware keyboard, swipe down becomes the Down arrow key, and it is logical to move to the next sentence with the Down arrow key rather than the Up arrow key.
4. Sorry, but I still don't understand. On my iPhone in both the portrait and landscape orientation, if I open some book, there are no tabs on the screen.
5. and 6. What about my second suggestion, that this could be solved by simply opening a new screen by double tapping on the button, On that screen, one could select the desired option by choosing from among several toggle buttons.
8. Thanks for the clarification. I haven't encountered such volume button gestures before. I guess this should be explained and documented somewhere as well.

Here are more questions and suggestions:

10. What about adding "Increase speech rate" and "Decrease speech rate" to the available button functions? I would assign those to the quick volume up-down and quick volume down-up buttons.
11. Apart from setting a custom button function, how can I quickly create a new bookmark? This should be as easy as tapping a button located directly on the opened book screen.
12. The "Bookmarks" button located on the opened book screen should have a more fitting name since it doesn't open only bookmark-related options. Perhaps it could be named "Annotations and other actions".
13. What is the difference between the list of annotations in the "Recent" and the "Annotations" panels?
14. Swiping up or down on the Standard speed/High speed button has no VoiceOver feedback. The new value should be narrated when swiping on the button.
15. I really think there should be a more detailed and clear user guide for the app. I can imagine that some users give up on the app in the first impression because the user interface is not a simple one, plus the meaning of the used wording for some button labels is not obvious. at first glance.

Thanks again.

Submitted by Labsii on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

I have noted just before your question that VoiceOver doesn't respect the current request from the code to call this button 'Navigation Panel' so it may cause some confusion. I am not sure why it happens but there are lot of alternative ways to do the same so it will be fixed.

However further title on the next screen is correct, it is called Navigation Panel. Considering the Recent it tracks some your recent positions. For example if you have moved to some far part of the text you can quickly go back to your previous position from here.

Without VoiceOver most users create bookmarks by swiping the row left. Also on the iPad and on the most of iPhones in the landscape there is a bookmark button visible. I will consider to make those icons visible with VoiceOver in all cases.

Submitted by Maldalain on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Thanks for the great communication. I have asked this before and I wish there is a solution to the issue I am having with he app. When I perform the read all command with VoiceOver, reading stops in the next paragraph, I asked this before and the answer was something about columns and moving of focus and it is not a Speech Central issue but Apple has to resolve this. Still I am wondering why this happens with Speech Central only? I have other book reading apps and only reading stops in the way I detailed with Speech Central.

Submitted by Labsii on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Hi, I remember that question, I believe it was over email.

The text in Speech Central is organized as a table where each paragraph is a row. You are correct that in most of other apps the text is not organized in this way (I have seen it in few Windows apps) and that's why you see different behavior in other apps.

This is how VoiceOver reads the table. There is nothing that I can do regarding that aside from rewriting the app not to use the table which would hit many fundamental pieces of the app. But reading the table this wayt is incorrect. In some part I understand Apple's decision as out of box the app doesn't see the content of whole the table and they would need to perform some sort of scrolling in this action to get all the content. However if they are dedicated to the accessibility they can do this just it requires someone to spend some small time on that. Every table out there would benefit and it is not that tables are rare in the apps just they are not used for this particular purpose in other apps.

I have directed users to send them feedback, but I'll send them the feedback regarding this too. Though as always the more messages they receive the better.

Submitted by peter on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Just curious if Speech Central supports audio file formats as Voice Dream Reader does.

Also, Voice Dream Reader integrates very easily with services such as Bookshare, Dropbox, etc. Don't know how books are imported into Speech Central.

Anyway, thanks for the description. Nice that developers are sensitive to accessibility these days and that we have choices!

--Pete

Submitted by Adam Samec on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

To keep the discussion here on topic, that is, the features of Speech Central for Mac versus Voice Dream Reader for Mac, I suggest continuing the discussion related to the iOS or iPadOS versions of these apps instead in the Speech Central iOS and iPadOS App Directory page.

I have already posted some suggestions for improvement of Speech Central for iOS on that App Directory page. Please, could you, Labsii, comment on those points, and also those points I mentioned above, which have not been addressed yet, there?

Submitted by Labsii on Thursday, May 5, 2022

I believe that it was answered regarding audio formats above.

I'll combine that answer with the answer for Bookshare. Bookshare support exists. It was added based on people's feedback. It felt like it was something big because many people have asked for it. After implementing it I can say that in last 3 months only 44 books were downloaded in the iOS version. And most of that is in the last few days for people that have tried the app because of this post, so they likely didn't have particular need to download the book but rather to test the feature. And also count in that there are people that downloaded two or more books so the number of users is even smaller. Also please note that I am not tracking any private data so I have no idea who those users are and what they read.

You'll never know until you implement so I am open to revise this in the future but everything points out that audio file support will be repeating this again. There are two problems that point out that this is likely exotic feature. First is that only one out of many text to speech apps has this feature. Second is that I have analytics of files formats shared into the app that could not be imported. That way I control if everything is well covered and get some new ideas. For the last three months no one tried to import an mp3 file and the only audio file was one ogg file.

I am not sure if my estimates regarding usage of this are correct, but I believe it is fair to be honest that I can't build a non-trivial feature that only few people would actually use.

Regarding the Dropbox or Google Drive built-in support, that is not a feature but rather a privacy and security loophole that should be avoided. I am saying that it is not a feature because both on iOS and macOS you can install their respective apps and access files on them through the system provided dialogs without any problem or through sharing files to other apps directly from these apps. This works and it is convenient and safe.

Giving your credentials to any other app is foolish. From the security point if any of those apps have at any point some unintended bug it may lead to data loss as it can delete files on your drive. Privacy problem is obvious as the app can spy on whole the content of your drive. And while I understand that people do trust the small developers, they shouldn't, even to the nicest of them. Even the nicest developer may decide to sell the app one day. Possibly because they are getting old and can't do the work anymore. And then it can happen that without any intention from this nice old developer a new developer finds that he can earn the most money by encrypting files on your Dropbox and asking for ransom.

So I'll never expose my users to such risks for no particular benefit. And I suggest users of other apps to avoid 'features' like this.

Submitted by Labsii on Thursday, May 5, 2022

I have further reviewed the argument that the arrow down key on the keyboard should lead to forward and not to seek backward.

I must say that it was worth the consideration. But my final evaluation is that the things should be consistent and this is how Apple has decided to implement it everywhere, so it should be implemented here too. For example if there is a picker and you want to go down you press the arrow up as it is meant to increment position. I understand that this may be confusing to some, but the suggestion to opt-out of this and make one control to act differently would just add up to confusion. Consistency must be the first principle.

Submitted by Johann on Friday, May 6, 2022

A feature I would like to see added to SC is the ability to add mp3 or other audio format files or zipped mp3 files.
I would be happy to try SC, but if it doesn't have audio support That's a deal breaker for me.

Submitted by Labsii on Friday, May 6, 2022

I have provided a detailed insight above regarding audio files support.

In the meantime I was thinking about possible solutions for those people that need this feature.

As far as I can tell by description the app Downcast already have all features that you need (I am not sure if they already support those zipped files but as they support podcasts with chapters and import of audio files that would be very trivial for them to add in the future if you send a request).

If someone tries that app it would be great to share experience whether it is as good for the audiobooks as I have predicted. Also as it is a paid app (3$ on iOS 5$ on Mac) you may want first to check with their support. I can't grant how they will answer but if you say that you will post about their app as the solution for this problem to this audience I would assume that they will give you a free license.

Submitted by Mathieu on Sunday, May 8, 2022

Hi,

Too bad that audio files / Daisy are not supported ...

It's also a pity that there isn't a Demo version for Mac ;)

Matthew

Submitted by Igna Triay on Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Hi Labcia,
I'm loving this app, and not only have it on my iphone, but I just bought it for the mac, too. Just a quick question. If I'm reading a book on the iphone and want to continue where I left off on the mac, or vise versa, is this possible? Does the reading progress sinks accross devices, such as if I pause on my iphone in the middle of a centance or chapter, if I then open speech central on the mac, will it continue from where I left off on my phone?
Edit, also, how do I import a large number of books at once? I have a library of over 168 books, can they be imported all at once?

Submitted by Labsii on Wednesday, May 11, 2022

There is the section in the help in the apps that refers to the iCloud syncing, it is also available on this link: https://speechcentral.net/ios-help/#sync

Here is the copy of text from there:

To sync data across devices ensure that:

- You are logged in to those devices with the same Apple account.
- That the option ‘Sync across Apple devices’ is enabled on each device. There are two settings to enable syncing of Headlines and syncing of Books & Articles. On the iOS devices it is toggled by going to the Extras tab, then Settings. On the Mac it is available from the main menu on the top by going to Speech Central > Preferences

Please note that the sync is optimized for the energy consumption and real-life use cases. The item may not appear immediately on another device and if you keep both apps open you may need to perform the manual refresh (pull than on the iOS and use the menu File > Sync on the Mac).