iHear Network (Text-to-Speech) social news reader, reads aloud your Facebook, Twitter & news feeds
May 24, 2012 8:23 AM –
iHear Network (Text-to-Speech) is a social news reader. It’s similar to such iPhone apps as Flipboard, FLUD, and SpokenLayer. You can use it to read and share content from Facebook, Twitter, and Pocket (formerly Read It Later). What’s more, you’re not confined to just reading the latest news! That’s right. You may also listen to articles and posts as your phone speaks them aloud using Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology.
Tested on: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Pros & Cons:
- You can subscribe to a variety of feeds, including your personal Facebook or Twitter feeds!
- There are a variety of voices to choose from!
- If there is a link in the post the app is reading, it will pull up either the YouTube video or the Web site!
- The voices are all very robotic, and have a hard time pronouncing words at times.
- I got error messages whenever I tried to link my Facebook account.
- The app crashed on me several times.
iHear Network is another app designed to read your posts to you, allowing you to, for example, get your daily social network updates in the car on the way to work. You can link accounts such as Facebook or Twitter, or pull in feeds from the app itself, on a variety of topics.
In practice, I tried quite a few times to link my Facebook account to the app, and got an error message that the service was down every time I tried. Twitter worked just fine, so I’m not sure where the problem was. I also had the app force close on me several times during testing, requiring me to go in and start it up again.
One thing I did really like is that it pulled up any links that was in the post that was being read. So if your Twitter friend posted a YouTube link, you can watch the video, for example. In practice, if you don’t stop the reading, it will go on to the next one before you can read the page or watch the video. And reading Websites or watching video defeats the purpose of being hands free in a car.
The voices I tried were all, to be honest, a bit robotic. They mispronounced a lot of words. User names in particular were butchered pretty badly, so if you were just listening to it, you probably wouldn’t have any idea who’s tweet you were listening to. I think this really illustrates that although text to speech apps are improving, to be honest they just really aren’t there yet.
Watch on Mobile
iHear Link Accounts
iHear Force Close
The best part of the app was the automatic pulling up of any links, which, if you’re listening to it in the car, like it’s advertised as being ideal for, really defeats the purpose. So my one really great feature becomes something of a moot point. To be honest, the text to speech just isn’t ready for prime time yet, and it shows in this app, so I think you’ll just end up using it as a Twitter or Facebook client, rather than what it was designed for.
Ease of Use:
It was easy to use – it’s just a few clicks to get your accounts linked, and then a button press to get it reading the feeds.
You’d probably use this once a day, on the morning commute, for example.
Again, the app itself is well-laid-out and easy to use. I didn’t have any problems with this part of it, and actually was able to get up and running very quickly.