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2 years ago

Android App Review: SVOX Classic TTS Engine

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YouTube link for mobile viewing

I might not think Siri is all that and a bag of chips, but I've got to hand it to Apple for one thing: it sounds good. Listening to the articulate, smooth-talking Siri, I couldn't help but think how archaic Android's own text-to-speech sounded. Compare Android's voice to Siri and you're left with the inevitable comparison to the Speak and Spell.

During one of my stints in the Android Central podcast chat, a reader suggested I give the SVOX Classic TTS Engine a shot, and boy, am I glad I did. Now the text-to-speech on Android is more than tolerable, and that's saying something.

When you install SVOX, you can't really do much in terms of text-to-speech. What you can do, however, is browse more than 25 languages, and once you've chosen a language, see the available voice packs for that language. Languages are sorted by a country's flag at the top of the screen, and you can move from flag-to-flag by swiping left and right.

Once you've decided on your language, you'll see the available language packs for that language. They're all given a human name, which is helpful to give you an idea of gender, at the very least. US English has five voices to choose from, although three seem to be more "for fun" and less "for actual use."

If you tap on any voice, you can listen to a sample of the voice, go straight to the Market to buy the voice pack, or get a free trial of the voice. The free trial lasts two weeks, so there's plenty of time to get acquainted with a voice before you pull the trigger and buy it.

Once you've purchased a voice, it'll show up in your app drawer as a separate app. Opening this app gives you controls over that particular voice, so you can set things like the device volume, text-to-speech volume, speed, and pitch.

More importantly, though, is the text field where you can listen to the voice say particular phrases. You can save phrases (maybe to show to friends later) and you can also share the voice through a variety of methods as well as force different pronounciations on things.

The last tidbit is probably one of the coolest features in SVOX, and if you spell something out phonetically in one voice, it shows up in all of the other voices, too. So if you've got a difficult-to-pronounce name (like my last name, apparently), you can try and find the best way to phonetically spell out the name or word you're thinking of, and SVOX will default to that pronounciation over it's standard way. Nifty.

Lastly, once you've got SVOX (and a voice pack) installed, you'll want to set it as the default TTS engine. This can be accomplished by venturing into your settings menu, poking around in Voice input and output, hitting Text-to-speech settings, and selecting SVOX Classic TTS from the Default Engine menu. Do that and voila, you've just brought your phone's text-to-speech up to 11.

The only downside of SVOX's voice packs is that they're $2.99 a piece, but once you get used to hearing a voice that more closely resembles that of a human, you won't want to go back to anything else. SVOX itself is free, and hey, at least you can demo any of the voices for a full two weeks!

We've got more screenshots of the app and download links to SVOX, Grace, and Michael after the break.

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2 years ago

Google Offers app now on Android; we go hands on!

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Google has released an official app for Google Offers, their location-based deal service. With the app, you can view, purchase and redeem deals right from your Android device.

When you open the app, you'll be shown the Featured deals of the day that are nearest to you, which is based on your GPS data. You can also slide to the right to access any offers you have purchased in the past. If you want to subscribe to other offers in other cities, simply go into the settings -> subscriptions and then select the area you wish to subscribe to.

There is a shortcut in the top right of the app to a barcode scanner in case you see a QR code that you wish to scan.

The biggest drawback is that while it's expanded to a slew of new cities, it's still fairly limited. To find out if you're city is included, visit the official Google Offers website.

Google Offers is available for free in the Android Market. We've got download links and our video walkthrough after the break.

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2 years ago

Google Reader and Docs updated with ICS makeover

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Google has been making a lot of changes as of late and while we knew an update to Google Reader for Android was coming we didn't know when, exactly. The update has now landed though and with it also came an update to Google Docs.

For the most part -- Google Reader doesn't appear to of have changed all that much. Nothing like it's online counterpart that has seen some radical changes over the past few days love it or hate it. In this release you'll find left/right navigation and just visual changes for Ice Cream Sandwich and now rather then Google Buzz you have Google+ sharing options.

Google Docs however, has quite a few changes. You do get the visual changes that put it more inline with the look of Ice Cream Sandwich but you also get more optimizations for Honeycomb tablets, improved video playback as well as portrait and landscape modes. Information about your documents is now more easily found and sharing options have auto complete added as well. Both updates are available in the Android Market right now.

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2 years ago

Yahoo! Weather app storms its way into the Android market

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No one wants to leave their house in the morning dressed in their finest only to get hit ten minutes later by a nasty rain storm, do they? Sure there are tons of weather applications already available in the market, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for one more and the next one to enter is from Yahoo! Unlike any other application out there Yahoo! Weather gives you beautiful hi-resolution images of the city you are viewing the weather for, in addition to all the standard features like a five day forcast, the ability to share your current conditions on your favorite social media channel, and much more. Download links after the break.

Source: Businesswire

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2 years ago

iOS finally gets a native gmail app, but is it as good as Android's?

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Rut ro, Raggy. The iOS -- and therefore the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch -- just got itself a native Gmail app, straight from Google itself.  That means proper Gmail on iOS, in its own application, and not though the iOS mail app with IMAP. Guess that means the end of Android, right?

Not so much.

The app itself isn't horrible. But neither does it feel like an Android or iOS application. It's in a weird in-between place. It's got push notifications, but you have to pull to refresh (on the other hand, the Android version doesn't do that -- it has a refresh button). You can get to your labels via a nice slide-out section on the left -- just like the Android version.

But the five-minute version is this: The addition of a Gmail app on iOS is a plus for iPhone and iPad users, and it's not likely steal users away all by itself.

We've got a brief walkthrough after the break (note that Google's pulled the app from the Apple App Store to fix a few bugs), and you can find loads more on our sister site, TiPb.com.

More: Google Mobile Blog; More iOS news at TiPb.com

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2 years ago

Age of Defenders - A unique multiplayer cross-platform tower defense game

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If you're into tower defense games then you'll want to get your hands on Age of Defenders from Cuketa. Having now gone official on the Android Market, Age of Defenders allows for multiplayer cross-platform action meaning, through the help of P2P and realtime sockets you can go head-to-head with iOS, Mac, PC and of course -- other Android players.

Given how the game is set up, phone users won't be able to get in on this action. However, tablet users -- game on. Age of Defenders will only set you back a few bucks in the Android Market and looks to be well worth it. Check out the trailer above, you'll find the download link past the break.

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2 years ago

My Fishing Companion for Android

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Like to fish? Love your Android phone?  Me, too.  I recently checked out My Fishing Companion and came away really pleased.  It tackles (pardon the pun) the problem apps designed for fishermen seem to all have in common -- nobody wants to enter info on a touchscreen phone while out fishing -- by allowing you to set everything up beforehand, and having a one-click solution for things like location and weather data.  Combined with a feature rich interface, and easy to manage lists and database for your catches, your gear, your places, and multimedia, it's one of the best outdoorsman's apps I've run across.

The full version of the app is $1.99, (Android 1.6 and higher) and it's well worth it.  But the free (lite) version has most of the functionality, and is a great way to check it out yourself.  We have the download links after the break, along with a video walkthrough and a handful of screenshots.

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2 years ago

Angry Birds hits 500,000,000 downloads

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What does it take for a game to hit a half-billion downloads? Here's how Angry Birds breaks it down.

  • No. 1 in 79 Countries
  • 266 billion levels plalyed
  • 400 billion birds shot
  • 44 billion stars collected
  • The equivalent of  200,000 years played
  • 300 million minutes played daily

Say what you will about the longevity of Angry Birds -- that's a bunch of downloads.

Download: Angry Birds for Android

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2 years ago

New Android Market pushing out with a few new settings

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Here's the latest version of the Android Market. Looks mostly like the Android Market you have now, but it's not. It's better. It's newer. And therefore better. And a fun fact about the Android Market: Once one person gets it, it can be pulled from the phone and shared. And that's what we've got here.

So what's better and newer in Build 3.3.11, you ask? So far as we can tell, it's mainly in the settings. You now have the option to tell all of your apps to automatically update, instead of checking a box on each on individually. (Bugdroid be praised for that one.) You can also tell the Market app to only update applications when you're connected to Wifi. Again, a good one.

And you can have it automatically add shortcuts to your homescreen, if you're into that. There are a few UI tweaks, too. Nothing major.

There's also some legalese regarding open-source licenses, which makes Jerry happy.

You can download it now, or just hang out and it'll push to you (assuming this isn't just a test build) when the time is right. Do note that apparently it's not playing nicely with Honeycomb tablets, and we're not exactly seeing our inbox clogged with people saying they've gotten this build (which is what usually happens). So if you sit this one out, we won't blame you one bit.

Source: Android Police

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2 years ago

Android Kids App: Scott's Submarine

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Youtube link for mobile viewing

Here's a fun little Android kids app that takes things under the sea. Scott's Submarine is an interactive book that tells the story of two children, Scott and Aiko, and Scott's cat, Jazz, and their underwater adventures.

Each page has animation on it, but no so much that it's distracting. Every few pages you search for items, which gets a little more difficult as you work your way thorugh the story. And there are two levels of reading -- 2- to 3-year-olds, and 4 and up. The former uses smaller words for younger children, and the latter uses a more advanced vocabulary and longer sentences. The reader's accent could be a small issue for some children, however.

The 37-page story also got four languages -- English, French, Spanish and Japanese -- and costs $2.99. We've got download links after the break.

See more Android kids apps

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2 years ago

Splashtop Pro released for businesses

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Now that Splashtop has its consumer Android remote desktop offerings on the market, they've now placed their efforts on the next logical customer -- businesses. Aiming for the enterprise market and looking for the love of IT Admins everywhere Splashtop Pro is now available and will help bring your desktop PC to your Android tablet or smartphone.

Splashtop Pro is the fastest way to enable mobile workforce. In 30 minutes, a company’s workforce is up and running with mobile tablets with full access to their apps and files on their computers,” said Mark Lee, CEO and co-founder of Splashtop. “We are excited to bring the ease of consumer apps to the corporate IT world, while supporting IT to centrally control and manage secure connectivity among devices.”

The services are available to IT Admins who can sign up for a Splashtop Pro account that supports 5-25 users on a 30-day free trial basis. After the trial though, it's $15 per person / per month for access or $149.99 per person / per year. For the full details you can hit the source link below.

Source: Splashtop

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2 years ago

Blue Angels app for Android

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Just in time for the final shows of the season, the Blue Angels -- the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstraion Squadron -- finally has its own official Android application.

First things first -- the Blue Angels app is $1.99, with proceeds going to the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. With that out of the way, the apps's a nice little portal into the Blue Angels, with show information (including maps), "news" (which is really just a Twitter feed) and then the meat of the matter. You get a roster and bios of the entire team (not just the pilots), info on the aircraft (including Fat Albert), and a list of all the manuevers the Blues (and, again, Fat Albert) do during a show. The maneuvers are the really slick part, with graphic showing the basic move. Video's just a touch away, however, and then you get a three-camera look at what it's like inside and outside the F/A-18. Very cool.

Our only real niggle here is that the app's a bit on the slow side, and be sure to not hit your phone's back button. But otherwise, it's a cool look into the Blues and the people who make them happen, and a nice way to support the Museum Foundation.

We've got screen shots, hands-on video and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

UK Android faithful reportedly receiving Sky Go in the coming months

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Sky Go is a big deal in the UK mobile world. Allowing its customers to watch their favourite TV content on demand through their computers and mobile devices including premium content, it's really a top grade service. At the moment, the mobile offering is exclusive to iOS. This though apparently may be about to change.

A spokesperson for the satellite TV company has told Techradar UK; "Sky Go on Android, it will be launching in the coming months." 

Sky Go currently has 1.6million users across the UK, which is impressive considering its relatively limited device coverage. Combined with the 2012 launch of Netflix on these shores, UK Android fans are finally approaching the sort of choice our American friends have on offer. 

Source: Techradar UK

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2 years ago

Duke Nukem 3D for Android now available; we go hands-on

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[Insert witty Duke Nukem soundboard item here]

He's back, baby. Duke Nukem 3D, the classic first-person shooter, is finally available on Android. It's everything you'd expect it to be, which is to say it's an extremely faithful port. If you've ever played Duke Nukem, you're right at home here. Same snide remarks, same point of view, same guns, same monsters.

Gameplay's fast -- almost too fast. The simple graphics don't allow much room for lag, which is good. But the screen's also pretty cluttered with buttons -- doubly so if you use dual-stick mode. But you can move the controls around, so that'll help some.

The game is a fairly big 27MB download. But for all those MBs, you only get one episode to play -- L.A. Meltdown. Lunar Apocalypse and Shrapnel City will each cost you another 99 cents. And that's on top of the ads that show up on the menus. Not a huge deal, but it's something to be aware of.

Otherwise, it's pretty straightforward. Not the best game we've seen on Android. But for 99 cents worth of nostalgia, it ain't bad.

Check out a few more screen shots, download links and our hands-on footage after the break.

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2 years ago

Google Reader website sees a major face-lift, new Android app expected soon

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If you use Google Reader to make all your RSS feeds a little more sane organized, be ready for a pleasant surprise.  Google has begun the rollout of the new look and feel for the reader website, and everyone should expect it by this evening.  Go on and hit F5 for a while, we'll wait (have to admit, I did just that).  The new look lines up with the rest of the updated Google service websites, including the black omnimagicbar across the top and your Google+ notifications baked right in to the upper left corner.

Speaking of Google+ and integration, the new Reader allows you to +1 and share stories right from the stream.  This is an easy way to share with friends, and should work much better than the previous friending, following, sharing, and comments methods, which have been removed in favor of the new integration.

It works the same as the +1 button does anywhere -- click it, and you're given the option to share it on Google+.  Type in your message, and the magic happens.

We're big users of both Google Reader and Google+ around these parts, and we're excited about the new look and the new + integration, but the last little tidbit Alan Green (Google software engineer) threw out on the official announcement is the best of them all -- expect a new Android app shortly.  Sweet.

Source: Google Reader blog

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