I’m a self-confessed bookworm. Every weekend you’ll find me reading new books and e-books to finish my annual reading list. While I prefer reading on pages (and on the tablet) I tried this experiment to see how far I can go with articles and blog posts, too. But this time, instead of reading, it’ll be more of listening sessions. Let me walk you through this productivity app dubbed Speaky and see how it might fit with your daily reading activities.
What’s the app?
Indie developer Sandratra Razafindralambo developed Speaky, a productivity app that solves your reading problems. The app dictates texts and articles available in five English languages. Users can copy and paste the articles from the websites manually, or let Speaky extract the texts automatically and then read everything for its user.
How does it work?
Once you launch the app, you’ll be greeted with a quick intro of what it can do, after which, you will be directed to the Reading List with the default folder dubbed as Inbox. Check the “Welcome to Speaky” article to listen to how it works.
Every time you open an item, Speaky prompts you to choose the type of English language; each one differs from accent and tone: South Africa, Australia, United States, Ireland, and United Kingdom. The South African English sounded good to me, by the way, so it’s what I’ve chosen for this review. After Speaky reads the introduction, you can now add your first link. Speaky allows you to:
Use copied URL from the Safari browser
Add manual text from any reading sources such as e-books, blog posts, etc.
Add from Pocket’s Queue
Add a new Reading List from a folder where you can arrange them per topics or interests
If you browse via Safari, then open the Speaky app and it’ll automatically ask you to allow it to import the new link you just visited. In a few seconds, it’ll be added to your Reading List. It’s easy as 1-2-3 and works while your device is locked, or when you switch to a different app with its Background Audio, Lockscreen Music Player support and Control Center features.
Is it noteworthy?
Indeed, Speaky is a noteworthy app for busy people and lazy readers. Whether you’re off to work and you need to catch some early morning news, or a ‘storyteller’ before bedtime, you can play it anytime. What I like about this app is that it’s straightforward and easy to navigate. There are no irritating ads, and it’s accessible while on Lockscreen mode. Plus, there’s no character limit on texts ad articles.
It would be great to see the built-in features of this app in the iOS. Could it be possible in the next software upgrade? But for now, I’d keep it as my reading assistant.
Speaky is available for iPhone and iPad devices. You may want to try it for yourself. Download it via iTunes direct link for $2.99.
The rumor mill is now pacified as Apple has finally released the official features of iOS 8 with more goodies and overhauls in store for developers and end-users.
At the WWDC event, which started June 2, 10:00 AM Pacific time (June 3, 1:00 AM, Hong Kong time), Tim Cook and the other Apple executives took charge while armed with the keynotes, as users worldwide were able to watch the event in real-time via Apple live stream.
So, for our roundup, here are the iOS 8 features:
New camera features
Apple beefed up the iOS 8 camera with Time Lapse photography, an interesting feature, which developers can take advantage of since there’s a new programming kit for the camera app that will allow third-party sources to access the camera features and integrate extension that weren’t possible in current software version.
The Photos app includes editing options that will allow users to make necessary changes of images with a simple thumb gesture. The features are quite similar with the iPhoto, but simpler. It has smart image analysis on the changes (seen in the demo) and post-edited photos will be synced with the iCloud. With Photos app in iOS and Apple’s plan of building a Yosemite version, there’s a possibility that the iPhoto will be ditched.
We’ve heard rumors and seen leaked images with native fitness and health integration (dubbed as Healthbook) in the upcoming iPhone and iOS 8. Apple provides the Healthkit API for developers to start building apps that will allow them to link apps and unify users personal health data to a single database. As Apple has shown, the data will be available to medical platforms and applications where you can privately store the data, or even better, show them to your doctor(s). Apple showed the list of healthcare companies and institutions, too.
Better and seamless syncing—that’s what Continuity is all about. It’s a group of features that automatically integrates your iOS and Mac devices activities, files and more.
Seamless iCloud drive sync
Aside from the mail and documents backed up in your iCloud, your photos will now be synced automatically in iCloud with free 5GB storage. Other storage plans start at $1 per month.
Files are merged; there’s no difference between local and cloud files. What’s stored in your device operates like a cache on what’s in your iCloud. We just hope that there will be more security on this turf.
Improved Mail app
Apple also deployed a few tweaks on the Mail app that allows users to mark a message as “Mark as Read” with a single swipe gesture, and more actions for “Trash, Flag, and More” (right to left) with another swipe, or entirely pull it to delete the message.
Spotlight features are also beefed up where users can access it (swiping downward) on a locked screen with more results and suggestions from a number of sources, aside from the native database of the device, such as Wikipedia, News, iBooks store, iTunes store, music, suggested websites and many more.
New interactive notifications
Users can interact with the notifications without leaving the current app. This can also be done on a locked screen (tap and swipe) where it won’t require users to unlock it. Got a new message? You can type reply (downward swiping) without closing or leaving the app.
This feature allows iOS devices to interact seamlessly with the OS X Yosemite. From the name itself, your iPhone knows what your Mac is doing and likewise. If you’re working on a Mail message in the PC and would like to take a break, you can pick it up where you left it and continue what you’re working on your iOS device.
New keyboard features
This is one of my favorite features—the iOS 8 keyboard comes with QuickType, a context-sensitive predictive typing that provides users words they can use by tapping the suggested words instead of typing. What’s more, the iOS keyboard will welcome third-party apps such as Swype or SwiftKey.
Siri is getting beefed up, too, with Shazam built-in integration and automatic interaction once you plug it in your car (just say, Hey Siri! Without touching the home button). It will also allow users to purchase apps in iTunes. It has 22 new dictation languages in its database and streaming voice recognition.
Touch ID with apps
The Touch ID feature will allow users to access their account via bank app and useful for authorization.
It’s easier to share all files with your family with this new feature—from family calendar to photos and locations—with each member updated. They can also share e-books, music, movies, and share the same credit card. What’s more, the credit card holder (e.g. Dad) will receive a notification for permission if one needs to purchase an app.
Extensions for developers
There are a lot of goodies in store for developers, such as extensions and the ability to integrate widgets just like in OS X. From Safari widget, to eBay widget, and extensions of custom keyboards, the new iOS ecosystem provides opportunities for developers and users to make the mobile experience more interactive and engaging.
Unannounced, but confirmed…
DuckDuckGo in Search features
Apple is also expanding Safari’s search engine features with DuckDuckGo, a startup, which is allegedly known as an anti-Google, that doesn’t track users for advertising purposes.
And many more…
You can send text messages and videos whether via keyboard or voice messaging. The Enterprise features are tailored for corporate end-users with built-in self-configuration functions and stronger encryption.
We know you’re very much excited to test the iOS 8. But for now, the goodies go to the developers, as Apple seeds the beta version. The official iOS will be available in the fall for free.
One of the 90’s kids delights today despite the growing number of complex concepts of HD games is to find something that brings back memories of the family computer games. I grew up playing Super Mario, Contra, Atari games, Street Fighter, Rockman and among others until dawn while my mother angrily shouts at me asking me to tone down the volume and sleep early. When I stumbled upon Pixel Hunter in App Store, I knew I’m off for a set of late-night gaming in the upcoming days.
Spring has finally arrived. Summer’s up in the central, and ice caps are melting. News from the West tells us we’re experiencing climate change. As far as the east to west is concerned, aside from our emotions that remain fleeting, the weather, too, jives in our day-to-day activities. To keep me posted on weather forecasts at a glance, I downloaded ClearWeather app, which is way better than the stock weather app in iOS.
Music in my ears, music everywhere—that’s why the perks of having a VPN mean a lot to me because I can access Spotify anytime. Whilst I’m satisfied with the service, plus the Beat app I downloaded for the songs in the phone, I checked SoundCloud Downloader Pro to see if it is qualified to stay in my music apps folder.
Here’s an app that I played a few weeks ago that has given me eye bags and kept me “up” until dawn. I found myself playing and competing with other players worldwide to reach the highest score. QuizUp is quite a temptation for me to stay awake. Join me as I walk you through its basics, and let’s see if it has the same effect on you.
Are you having a hard time breaking or forming a habit? We’re about to finish the first quarter of this year, and I know most of you (even me) had already listed down resolutions, good habits, and goals for this year. It’s quite frustrating when we miss our target, and for some who want to form good habits, it’s challenging to keep moving with consistency unless there’s someone to encourage you. That’s how the Lift iPhone app got my attention while browsing the App Store, and so I tried it.
I had a chance to tinker the stock music player of my iPhone over the weekend when I realised that it lacks features that I want to experience while listening to my playlist. I rarely do this (since most of the time reviewing third-party apps). It’s just one of those weekends when I had time to check out every nook and cranks of the default music player. It dawned on me it was awfully designed.
I need to find an alternative, maybe something that looks like DoubleTwist player in my Android or maybe something better. After testing some apps, the quest is finally over. Beat Music Player for iPhone “beat” them all.
What’s the app?
Monkey Bits brings us Beat Music Player—a sleek, simple and beautifully designed music player for iPhone that comes with a set of basic player features and intuitive gestures while listening to your favourite playlist. It’s a good alternative for the stock music player.
How does it work?
Add your first three playlist once you launch Beat. You may also want to browse the hints for gestures to maximise the player functionalities.
To start with, you may browse through the themes section and choose a design or theme that matches your taste. You’ll find quite a number of them. If you’re after the UI, gestures and navigation, this app matches your expectations. There are three locked themes—Fabric, Deep and Sandstorm—that you can unlock once you share and rate the app and play and share the song via social media.
The View option allows you to rearrange the order of Playlist, Artists, Songs and Albums, which are displayed on the player and can be accessed by swiping from left to right.
For shaking options, you may choose what you would Beat do—whether to play a random song, next song, toggle shuffle, play/pause or turn it off as you wish.
You can set a default cover option for the album art—circular, square or no cover at all.
The gestures and hints might intimidate you at first (I was!). I suggest that you spend time reading the hints sections for a few minutes to memorise the shortcuts easily.
Is it noteworthy?
Beat Music Player for iPhone is noteworthy. I like the circular option for the cover. It looks fab. Whilst it still lacks some features like the equaliser and auto (or manual) updates of album covers, I prefer using it because of its impeccably designed UI and themes that blends with the iOS 7. I look forward to the next update. The developer told me that they’re already working on it with additional features. The app deserves a 4.5 star rating.
Keep up with the latest news and updates—whether it’s your list of interesting topics, trends, or stories within your location, Reverb improves the way users browse and read news on the iPad. It’s a rare find of news feed app that I use to jumpstart my daily blurbs and writing projects.