My Favourite iOS App of 2013

Voice Dream Reader is a text-to-speech app that will convert web articles, ebooks, pdf’s, .txt files and Word docs into audiobooks of any length.

A good quality American voice comes bundled with the app for free and there are many top-quality voices to choose from via in-app purchase. Once installed you have full control over voice speed, pitch and volume. What sets Voice Dream Reader apart from other text-to-speech apps is that it features your own personalised pronunciation dictionary. If you come across a word that is not pronounced to your liking, correct it via the built-in editor and it will remember the pronunciation in future. These corrections will also sync to your other iOS devices via iCloud.

You can play, pause and skip forward and back via the remote button on Apple ear pods. Content can be added to Voice Dream Reader via Dropbox, Pocket, clipboard, Instapaper (via subscription), iTunes and more. The playback screen offers built-in search and you can also add bookmarks for easy navigation.

If you like the idea of converting web articles, ebooks, pdf’s, .txt files and even Word docs into audiobooks then Voice Dream Reader is an absolute must-have app. It’s been on my home page since installing it in June 2013 and has been used every day since then. I use Voice Dream Reader to read web articles whilst walking the dog and driving in the car. I’ve even used it to read full novels that run for over 14 hours with no problem at all.

Voice Dream Reader is currently on sale, reduced from £6.99 to £2.99 and in my opinion is the best text-to-speech app available. There’s also a lite version available for free.

Spotify Collections

About a week ago my wife noticed that the ‘Playlists’ section in her iOS app had been replaced with the new ‘Collection’ feature. Now - when viewing an album - you can ‘add to collection’ as well as ‘add to playlist’. This new feature makes it much easier to browse through your favourite albums in much the same way as you can with the Rdio app for iOS. Hopefully Spotify will roll this feature out for everyone soon.

iOS 7 Wishlist

Safari extensions
Just like in OS X, I’d like to be able to install third-party extensions in Safari. I am mainly thinking 1Password here.

Third-party access to Siri and Spotlight
I’d love to be able to ask Siri, What time is my next train home? Siri could then launch the Train Times app and show this information. While I can appreciate building third-party access into Siri would be difficult, this functionality would be awesome. I would think building third-party access into Spotlight however would be fairly easy by comparison. Searching your Evernote or Vesper files using Spotlight would-be lightning fast.

Gmail push for Mail.app
As one of the most popular email services in the world, I am surprised that there is still no push email support in the stock iOS email client.

Images in notes
It’s time that the iOS version of Notes was updated to support images just like it’s OS X counterpart.

Trials in the App Store
See Amy Worrall’s post on how to implement trials in the App Store.

Swype style keyboard option
I’m not looking for third-party access to the keyboard. That’s not the Apple way. I’m thinking more of an option inside Settings to use a Swype style - system wide - keyboard instead of the stock one.

Increased access to background processes
I’d like to see developers gain increased access to background processes. Wouldn’t it be better to launch an RSS client, email or weather app and have the information waiting for you? Rather than launching the app, hitting refresh and waiting for the data to download.

Oggl vs Hipstamatic - Lenses and film

During the last few days using Oggl, I have noticed the lens / film combinations are not quite the same as they are in Hipstamatic.
Jane lens for example - my everyday lens - gives a nice even tone with very minimal filtering applied. The Jane lens in Oggl however has heavy vignetting and overexposes the centre of the image. The same is also true for the John S lens. The Oggl lenses seem to exaggerate and cheapen their Hipstamatic counterpart.
I decided to take a few test shots using both Oggl and Hipstamatic in the same situation. Here is what I found.

John S lens - Ina’s 69 film

John S lens - Ina’s 69 film

Jane lens - Ina’s 82 film

Jane lens - Ina’s 82 film

John S lens - BlacKeys B+W film

John S lens - BlacKeys B+W film

Dave Day - @daveday