Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kindle Fire Free App of the Day: PDF to Speech

Today's Free App of the Day is Pdf to Speech
Originally $2.99

I was excited to see this app; I'm always excited when a non-game appears.  But I was disappointed to see the reviews.  However, most of the reviews cite the "horrible" text-to-speech voice.  I don't find the voice bad--seems about the same as the usual Kindle text-to-speech voice to me.  (I don't use it much--will check after this on my Touch.)  I found it okay to listen to. At least as okay as the text-to-speech ever is.  I think the people complaining hadn't had text-to-speech before.  Note that one review talks about switching the voice using a sideloaded voice.  I don't think that's possible on the Fire; I looked for the options in the Fire's settings that the review mentioned for Android devices and I don't think they're there.

I think it actually works pretty well; but it badly needs instructions.  I think for the people who really need to be able to have PDFs, Word docs and ePubs read to them on their Fires, it's worth learning the app.

The real negative to me is the lack of instruction.  I'll hit the highlights here.

When you open the app, you'll have to agree to a long EULA (end user license agreement).  Once past that, you'll basically see a blank screen with four icons at the top--four different tabs:  speaker, folder, bookmarks, settings.

When in any of the four "tabs" at the top, you can swipe the side/bottom menu bar and tap on the menu icon for options for that "tab."

You'll want to go first to the second tab--the folder.  It will default to show you the list of folders on at the "sdcard" level.  If you've played files before, it will also show you a list of recent files played.

It's kind of slow to show all the folders available to look in; you have to be a bit patient.  Also, to go back after looking in a folder, you have to swipe the sidebar/bottom menu and tap on the "back" button.

There's an option to search.  If you start to type a phrase that would be in the book title, it will show you files that meet that type; unfortunately it will only let you search for Word or PDF files, if the file name on the device has the word in it as a whole word, it will find it. (PDFs sometimes have weird numbers; also wildcards don't work).

Or, you can tap on the menu and choose "File Manager" which will let you use a file manager such as ES File Explorer. If you do use an external file explorer app, once you find the file you want, tap it.  A pop up will ask you "Pick Up File As" with the choices "Normal Android Way" and "File Way."  I chose "Normal Android Way."  It will open the file and go back to the PDF to Speech app and begin playing the file.  I used the ES File Explorer more than the native app to find files; once you've found the file, it will show up in "Recently played" within the app.

Pressing on the "speaker" icon unexpectedly showed me the current sentence being read in the current file, along with some rudimentary (crude) controls for moving in the file.  You can apparently draw gestures to play the file, but when I tried that, I could never get it to continue playing again and ended up clearing the cache and starting over.

Tapping on the menu for the "speaker" tab lets you bookmark a point in the file.  You can also go to a web page  to have it read.

If you go back to a recent file as shown on the folders page, it will pick up where you left off.

The bookmark tab will show you a list of bookmarks for the current file.

The last tab is the Settings.  You can change the language (except that English is the only language shown?), set it to read the page number.  "On" is the default, I turned that off.  You can also have it read the header and footer of each page, this is off by default.  You can have it read with your music in the background.  And you can set the size of the text shown when viewing the file on the "speaker" tab.  It's a sliding tab.  And then there are some other geeky settings.

There's more, but I'll leave it to you to explore.

If you are someone who wants to be able to have PDFs and ePubs as well as other formats (see product page) read to you, this app WILL do it.  I'd give it between three and four stars.

5 of 15 reviews are four stars and above.

These apps are compatible with the original Fire and with my Fire HD 8.9" 4G. To tell if an app works for your Fire HD or other Android device registered to your Amazon account, click on the above link and look on the right side of the web page.  Amazon will tell you if it will work with your registered device.

Have fun!

Also check out the other digital deals from Amazon, including great deals on MP3s and videos:

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