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How to import emails?

You can import email messages by dragging and dropping one or more messages from the iOS Mail to Speech Central.

If you want to drag multiple messages first click the ‘Edit’ button in the Mail app and select those messages. After that if you start to drag any of them other selected items will join to your dragged group.

You can switch apps with another finger/hand while dragging so it is possible to drag content between apps. For a video tutorial on how to do this, take a look at this video: https://youtube.com/watch?v=ab_Ty5fxSWc&feature=share

How to listen to the headlines from web sites and add articles from them?

1. In the Headlines tab of the app add a home page or some other site section that contains headlines or site’s RSS feed using the ‘+’ button. You will see three options:

  • Popular Sites – first pick the category of the site (e.g. Sports, News) and then check all the sites that you want to follow from that category.
  • Web Site – type the name of the site and tap ‘Add’.
  • Type Address – type in the address of the feed or web site to add it

2. Tap on the item and the app will start to read the headlines from the page

3. To add linked articles you can swipe left over the item and tap on the “Add to Books & Articles” button (visually it appears as “+”). You can also long tap on the item and pick this option from the menu. Finally, you can tap on the “More” at the top right of the screen, pick “Select Articles to Add”, select all articles that you would like to add and press the “Add to Books & Articles” button at the bottom toolbar.

4. You can even add articles while the screen is off (e.g. when you are using headphones and walking or while driving and the app speaks through connected Bluetooth speaker).

  • First go to the Extras tab then to the Settings and finally to Button Functions in the Headlines subsection. Set the action of the Next button to ‘Add to Books & Articles’.
  • When the item is read and the screen is off hit the next button to add the article related to it to the Articles tab. On the headphones the next button is invoked by double clicking on the center button.
  • When reading of headline item(s) is completed, the app will proceed to read the article items that you have added in the previous step.

How to read aloud web pages from Safari, Twitter and other apps?

1. Invoke sharing of the link – in Safari it is done by pressing the Share button in the middle of the toolbar, in Twitter by performing tap and hold on the link.

2. If you use this function for the first time, additional steps are needed:
2a. In the first row where the apps are listed scroll to the right and tap on “More”.
2b. In the next screen ensure that the switch for Speech Central is set to ‘On’. You may also reorder Speech Central to appear closer to the top.

3. Tap on Speech Central in the first row of icons.

4. Tap on ‘Listen Now’.

5. The web page is added to the end of the Articles tab and read aloud.

How to import files from iCloud, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box etc?

1. When file is stored on the storage other than iCloud ensure that you have installed the required storage app from the App Store (e.g. Dropbox app) and after that log in to that app.

2. In the Books & Articles tab tap the ‘+’ button and then ‘Import File’

Follow the steps bellow (you may also read the official Apple support on this topic):
3. If you are using for the storage other than iCloud:
3a. Select the ‘Browse’ tab
3b. Go back to the first page (ensure that you see ‘Cancel’ in the top left)
3c. Under ‘Locations’ if you see your storage provider click on it otherwise tap on the ‘More’ (‘…’) in the top right and pick ‘Edit’
3d. Ensure that the switch next to your cloud provider is turned on and tap on the ‘Done’ in the top right
3e. Browse to the file

4. If you are using iCloud:
4a Tap on the ‘Browse’ tab at the bottom
4b. Navigate through the folders and tap on the file you want to open.

How to import multiple files in one step?

From the Books & Articles section press the ‘+’ button in the toolbar, then pick “More…”. Finally Pick the option “Import Multiple Files…”.

How to change the language of the item?

The language of the item is automatically detected based on its text. To skip auto-detection you can set the default language for a new item in Extras > Settings > Books & Articles. When the item is playing you can change the language by picking the appropriate voice for that language In Settings > Speech > Voice.

How to customize pronunciations?

For Apple voices you can add custom pronunciations by using system Settings. Go to Accessibility > Spoken Content > Pronunciations, and press the ‘+’ button on the top left.

How to backup data?

By default your data is saved to iCloud as part of operating system backup. Assuming that you have enough space on the iCloud you can always restore data to another iOS device using this operating system function.

If you don’t use this function or you want to backup for different purposes, you can export data to .docx file format, which is ISO standard file format and can be easily accessed in many apps (including that you can re-import items back to Speech Central with preserving the annotation). To export the whole list follow this procedure:

  1. Press the ‘Edit’ button in the top left of the screen.
  2. Press the ‘Select All’ button that will appear on the same position.
  3. On the bottom of the screen press the ‘More’ button (‘…’).
  4. Pick ‘Export to Word Doc’.
  5. If you want to save .docx files to a folder pick ‘Save to Files’ in the share sheet.

How to sync data among iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac?

To sync data across devices ensure that:

  • You are logged in to those devices with the same Apple account.
  • That the option ‘Sync across Apple devices’ is enabled on each device (on Apple Watch it is always enabled as the app doesn’t have its source of data). There are two settings to enable syncing of Headlines and syncing of Books & Articles. On the iOS devices it is toggled by going to the Extras tab, then Settings. On the Mac it is available from the main menu on the top by going to Speech Central > Preferences

Please note that the sync is optimized for the energy consumption and real-life use cases. The item may not appear immediately on another device and if you keep both apps open you may need to perform the manual refresh (pull than on the iOS and use the menu File > Sync on the Mac).

Can I use Siri voices?

Apple restricts Siri voices only to the operating system functions. This is done to protect the user privacy as the user might be sharing his private data with Siri. While this sounds reasonable Apple has already proved that such risks can be managed by implementing the mechanism in which an app asks the user for the permission to use a potentially risky resource. Please encourage Apple to implement such mechanism by sharing your feedback using the Apple’s feedback assistant. In the header press the icon to start the new feedback, then pick ‘iOS & iPadOS’, and then mention that you would like Apple to implement the mechanism that would allow you to give apps permission to use Siri voices.

Also you may want to sign the petition that asks Apple to improve on this.

What to do if the app is not working?

First check if you are affected by some known issue in the iOS operating system. If you are not using the latest version of Apple’s operating system ensure that you have updated to the latest version.

If you find some specific bug use the support contact to report it.

If the app is not working at all or some major function is not working in most cases there is the problem on your device. The app is tested by Labsii and Apple before each release and it is highly unlikely that such problem may occur.

In most of such cases it is enough to just restart the device to restore the functionality. If it doesn’t help it is very likely that it will be resolved by reinstalling of the app.

So please ensure that you have tried the options mentioned above. If you still find problems please report the problem to the support.

How to get the API key and region for Microsoft Neural voices?

If you want to first preview voices available on Azure service, you can do this on the official page (the app uses the default style).

  1. Create the Azure account and subscription (note: currently there is a version with free limited tier and paid version) from here.
  2. Create the Speech Service from here
  3. You should be able to see the Speech Service in the Azure Portal. When you open it in the left sidebar there is the option ‘Keys and Endpoints’ that you can use to create and get data about API key.

Please note that:

  • Speech Central is in no way affiliated with Microsoft. Your relationship with Microsoft is in no way connected to your relationship with Speech Central as Speech Central doesn’t take any fee from your eventual payment to Microsoft.
  • Microsoft paid tier is fairly expensive (the price at the moment of writing of this article is 16$/million characters which means that listening to larger books would cost 10$ or more). We have picked to support Microsoft as it has a generous free tier that may be enough for most use cases, most other providers (Amazon, IBM) charge the same amount but don’t have a free tier at the moment.
  • If you use their paid tier it is strongly suggested for you to track your costs in their portal and avoid unpleasant surprises (there is a page ‘Cost Analysis’ that can be activated from the option right below ‘Keys and Endpoints’ that you have used in the previous step).

To activate those voices go to Extras tab > Settings > Voice > Microsoft Neural Voices (activated from the menu at the top right of the screen).

What to do if Microsoft AI voices don’t work?

As Speech Central is not affiliated with Microsoft, you need to contact Microsoft directly for eventual problems in their service. In most of the cases users are hitting the limitation of their free tier and getting the error for that. Most notable limitations of their free tier are:

  1. You can use up to 500,000 characters in the last 30 days. This Information is updated each second so the app is likely to be able to read few sentences now and then if this happens.
  2. You have a limited number of requests in the minute. You shouldn’t be able to hit this limitation by listening to the regular text at the default speed, but you may hit it by frequently skipping the content, listening at high speeds or by some specific context with very short sentences (or combination of all of those).