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.