Speech Central is dependent on the voices provided by the device. As such it may be useful for potential users to be educated on differences in voices provided by the most popular mobile operating systems that Speech Central supports – iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android (with Google Play services).
Both iOS and Android come with built-in voices. As those voices are available with no additional cost for the user their quality is very important. There are some notable differences between iOS and Android regarding those:
- On the iOS text-to-speech is built into the system. The open source version of Android doesn’t have the text-to-speech functionality built into the system. However nearly all Android phones or tablets come with Google services deployed on top of Android which include Speech Services by Google. This may affect your experience with text-to-speech apps as on Google this service may not be always active and if the app starts the service it may get suspended at any time. While this opens up significant potential for worse user experience, I believe that most users of Speech Central shouldn’t experience related problems for two reasons:
- Speech Central has smart algorithms that are error tolerant and expect that problems like this may appear.
- Speech Central has set minimal hardware requirements in a way that this problem is less likely to appear (as that potential suspending problem is more related to very low-end devices)
- On Android, Google provides both online and offline voices. Online voices are of higher quality but they are generated on the server and as such they depend on your data connection. If the data connection is not good enough it may cause a degraded user experience caused by the latency (which manifests as longer pauses between the sentences). Apple provides only offline voices.
- iOS supports three levels of quality for most voices: Standard, Enhanced and Premium. Unlike Apple, Android has only one tier of the quality per voice (though the quality of the voices itself may vary per languages and voices but voices are not categorized this way). It is important to note that all quality levels are not installed by default on the iOS. While all voices are installed in the Standard quality, usually only one or two voices may be installed in the Enhanced quality and Premium quality requires manual install by the user. You may want to read on more details on how to install those voices from the system Settings. Please note that some voices/languages may not have all quality tiers.
- The perception of quality of voices comes down to personal preferences and may be influenced by the previous experience of the user. I will provide some general estimates based on the feedback provided by users of Speech Central and my personal opinion. As such it is worth to compare various levels of quality provided by Apple to Google’s voices. The Standard Apple voices appear to sound significantly worse than Google’s voices. The Enhanced Apple voices generally sound a bit better than Google’s offline voices and are of similar quality or a bit below when compared to Google’s online voices. The Premium Apple voices sound better than all Google’s voices. Also of note this is based on Google voice quality for popular languages. For some less popular languages the quality of Google voices may be significantly lower.
- Please note that not all versions of operating systems provide the same voices. Google provides new voices through the app update so all versions of Android should be able to have the latest voices. Apple did provide multiple updates to its text-to-speech technologies but most notable update that you should consider comes with iOS 16 that provides a new quality tier called Premium which brings significant improvements over the Enhanced quality voices.
This analysis doesn’t stop here. Both operating system have a support for 3rd party voices. While those voices are usually not free (at least those that provide higher levels of quality) they are still just one time payment in the range of 5$ that are notably less expensive than internet voice streaming solutions and as such may be a worthy alternative. Regarding this capability you should have following in mind:
- On the iPhone this option is available only since September 2022 and more voice apps are expected to come. Currently there is only eSpeak app.
- Google Play provides a much wider range of such apps. Notable high quality voices come from Acapela and CereProc.
Whatever platform you choose, Speech Central is there to help you to get the most out of text-to-speech for that platform with extensive feature set that covers more use cases than any other app. Get it on iOS or Android.