From Hard Copy to Text-to-Speech on an iDevice

When it comes to apps for iStuff, I’ve decided to extend my definition of free to include what I’ll call “almost free”.  After contending with what has often seemed like extortionate pricing for computer software, it is refreshing to be able to purchase excellent apps for much more affordable prices.

I will continue to write about free computer resources, but I’ll also be turning my attention to apps for Apple’s iDevices.  In the not too distant future, I’m hoping to write about apps for Android devices; but not before I am in a position to purchase an Android tablet.  I’m eying the new Asus Transformer Prime with a great deal of interest!

Today, I’m writing about an iPhone app that uses the phone’s camera to turn text on paper into text that can then be read aloud on the iPhone.  This can be tremendously valuable for anyone who faces reading challenges.

[Note: This app works only on the iPhone. Apparently, the iPad camera will not auto-focus; so it won't work on the iPad.]

Text Grabber is an app that uses the iPhone’s camera to take a picture of text, and then applies its first-rate OCR to turn it into editable that can then be read aloud.  In my trials it worked so well that I think it is well worth its $1.99 price tag for anyone who needs it.

I installed Text Grabber on my iPhone 4 that is running iOS 5.  On my first attempt to use the app, I used the camera built into Text Grabber to photograph the page shown below.  Part of the converted text is shown underneath.  OCR is never perfect, but this result is excellent, despite the fact that the original was somewhat crumpled.  There was no problem having this text read back to me aloud.  (Please read what I’ve written under the images if you want to know how I had the text read aloud.)

With iOS 5 it was extremely easy to have the converted text read aloud to me with the ‘Speak Selection’ feature that has been built into iOS 5.  I simply copied the converted text to a text editor (I’m using Nebulous Notes.)  I then selected all the text.  When I did that, I was given the ‘Speak’ option, as shown below, in order to have the selection read aloud.  In my next post, I’ll write more about using the Speak Selection’ feature in iOS 5.

7 thoughts on “From Hard Copy to Text-to-Speech on an iDevice

  1. I always enjoy reading your website. iDevices are very popular in our area as well. I restarted updating my blog site recently. I would appreciate it if you could share your opinion at my blog site about free software and apps at Thank you.

  2. Usually iPhone apps work with iPads as well, but when I purchased this app, it said that it could not work on “this device”, meaning my iPad running iOS5. Hmmm. I’ve been looking for an app like this for a long time to use on our iPad cart at my high school too! Thanks for posting about this, but you may want to warn people it won’t work on an iPad so others don’t unknowingly purchase it and not have it work.

  3. Thanks for this feedback, Keith. I will add a disclaimer to my post. Apparently, TextGrabber won’t work on an iPad because the iPad camera will not auto-focus. I’m really sorry If I’ve encouraged anyone to “waste” money on this.

  4. Pingback: Nebulous Notes – Great Writing App, Especially for Writers with Low Vision | Free Resources from the Net for EVERY Learner

  5. Wondering if you have compared text grabber OCR to image to text
    Thanks for great, informative posts!

  6. Wondering if u have compared text grabbers OCR to image to text app which i believe is free but also only for iPhone
    Thanks for great, informative posts!

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