Monday, February 23, 2009

Rocketron - Listen to the News on You iPhone!

For those of you who have been following my iPhone rants over the past few weeks... you know that I am looking for Apple to add a text to speech (TTS) engine to the Touch OS 3.0. Yes, I want my iPhone to read to me when it is inconvenient for me to read from the screen.

I may be getting my wish piecemeal! A new news gathering application called Rocketron 1.0 (free) is now available on the App Store (the name is unfortunate, sounds more like a gaming application!), with Rocketron you can listen to and/or read read your daily news!

Initially, the application looks promising, the developer touts the following on their website:
  • Get the latest headlines for World, US National, Business, Politics, Entertainment, Sports, and Technology.
  • Hear any article in spoken form, just press Play.
  • Play Mode is like an iPod loaded with news! Skip and repeat individual stories, and change news categories faster than switching albums.
  • Customize your news by specifying “News I Want” and “News I Don't Want.”

My daily routine includes browsing news from the NYTimes, USA Today and AP Mobile News applications, at first glance, it appears that Rocketron has solid news content, at least on par with USAT. The interface is logical, select a category, (World, Sports, Tech, Business, etc) then select an article, after a brief advertisement the text article appears, to have the article read to you, touch the "Play article" button, wait 10-15 seconds and the article is read to you - the reading is on par with OS X's Alex TTS reader. In other words, listening to a 10,000 word thesis is probably beyond the scope of this application, but listening to a typical news article is tolerable. Rocketron also has a cool "Play Mode" I suspect that this feature will be great for use while driving. In the 5-6 articles I have listened to so far, I did find that you should go into the iPhone settings and set "Auto-Lock" to never, otherwise Rocketron will stop reading to you when the screen blanks.

I am looking forward to using this application over the next few days.. and sharing my findings, for now the price is right! The content looks solid... and the TTS is tolerable... initially it looks like a step in the right direction!

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