If you’re like me (or anyone at CSR, really), you spend a lot of time in the car. I definitely love listening to music, but I do feel the urge to feel productive, and this is where audio books and podcasts come in. I’ve “read” about a dozen books in the past year or so just by listening while I drive, and learned a lot from select episodes from my favorite podcasts. It’s an easy way to stay caught up on thought leadership that I otherwise wouldn’t consume.
Of course there’s a downside to this method of absorption: many useful and interesting reads aren’t available in audio format. That’s where my new favorite app comes in.
Voice Dream is a pretty straightforward app: plug in text and it reads it back to you. What sets it apart from other apps I’ve tried is its thoroughness. Most of the other apps I tried have just a few of Voice Dream’s features. I want them all! You can open a file from cloud storage (such as Dropbox or iCloud), type in the
A feature I really like is the huge variety of voices that Voice Dream provides. “Heather,” a calm voice with an American accent, was the first that I chose. I also paid an additional fee for “Emma,” a higher pitched, more urgent voice that would be right at home in an Austen film. There are dozens of other voices with a variety of accents, emotions, and even level of gravitas (“Queen Elizabeth,” “Chipmunk,” and “Bad Guy Will” are other options). If you happen to be listening while not driving (for instance, while cleaning the house or taking a walk), you can take notes, bookmark, or rewind easily. And as a bonus for the dyslexics out there, the speech cursor highlights each line and word as it is read.
The biggest downside to Voice Dream is one that you get from pretty much any reader: awkward errors. Sometimes Emma reads an ellipsis as “dot,” “X” as “ten,” or mispronounces uncommon words. Voice Dream doesn’t interpret typos very well either, which might have you scratching your head for a few seconds if you’re listening to an email from someone that doesn’t use spell check. I don’t mind that aspect though. It makes me laugh while I’m slogging through a dry text.
At $14.99, Voice Dream is probably one of the most expensive iPhone apps I’ve ever purchased without absolutely needing it. But I have no regrets! In addition to consuming work-related items, I can also listen to public domain fiction (I use Emma for Austen and Wilde), my friend’s Redwall fanfiction, and newspaper articles I usually don’t make time for. I definitely recommend getting this app or one like it. It’s a time saver and a lot of fun.