VoxDox for Android and iOS Review: Turning Text into Talk

by Barney Morisette Reads (4,449)

TG Rating

Rating 1 to 10, top score 10.
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6.00

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Design
    • 6
    • Functionality
    • 6
    • Ease of Installation/Ease of Use
    • 6
    • Performance
    • 6
    • Cost Benefits
    • 6
    • Total Score:
    • 6.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Clear and intelligible speech output
    • Project sharing through Facebook
  • Cons

    • Importing text is difficult
    • Small user base limits social benefits

Like other apps for text-to-speech (TTS) conversion, VoxDox is designed to take your text input and turn it into spoken words. Yet if you want to convert a magazine article or a longer piece of written content, how effectively does this Android and iOS app actually perform? For this review, we put both editions of VoxDox to the test.

Overview

VoxDox is a TTS app that is available for both Android and iOS. The user interface (UI) of VoxDox is built around the idea of Projects. A Project is a collection of text that once assembled can then be launched for conversion.VoxDox 1

VoxDox also offers some distinctive capabilities for social sharing.

Text can be imported into a VoxDox Project via an image, a file, or a URL. You can also type directly into a text box.

In testing VoxDox for this review, we looked at the app’s performance at both text input and speech output.

Performance

URL importing worked well except there was no way to isolate what part of the website to import. Thus VoxDox would methodically read aloud all the menu options, bylines, dates, etc., before zeroing in on the text desired. Best results were obtained on web pages that were already formatted as long-form readable text. As a torture test, I pointed it towards an online copy of Aristotle’s “Metaphysics.” VoxDox took over an hour to process all 167 pages of the online copy, but it did eventually finish.

Importing text into VoxDox via camera images requires processing through OCR (optical character recognition), which was problematic to say the least. Only pictures of text-only pages with no column formatting taken at close range were reliably converted. Magazine articles were a mishmash. An auto review magazine article with lots of acronyms and jargon looked like raw ASCII code.

Importing a file wasn’t easy, either, because there is no integration with widely available file services like Dropbox, Google Docs, or Skydrive. Instead, VoxDox leverages its own document database, VoxBox.

Social Sharing

On the other hand, this is where VoxDox provides some unique functionality that sets it apart from other text-to-speech apps. Billed as “a first-of-its-kind social audio database,” VoxBox lets people share their completed projects through either VoxBox or the sharing permissions of Facebook. Apparently, VoxDox has its roots as an academic tool meant to allow students to share notes and materials with teachers and other students alike.

VoxDox 2While the social aspect of this app gives it some unique potential, VoxBox does not appear to have caught on quite yet. As of this writing, there are less than 200 projects publicly available in VoxBox and most are pointers to Wikipedia pages.

Clear and Intelligible Speech

Once the hurdles of creating or downloading a project were cleared, the performance of VoxDox was quite good, on the whole. The speech was clear and intelligible and the pacing was steady. However, some vocal inflection is injected based on the punctuation and this sometimes comes off as awkward.

There is also an occasional pause at a line-break when none is necessary and the raised pitch at the end of a question comes off as too high. The pacing is adjustable but I found all speeds other than Fast to be too slow. (Granted, I am a fast talker myself.) The app also offers language translation, but as with most apps of this nature, the resulting text is awkward.

For an assortment of screenshots of the Android and iOS editions, please see the Image Gallery that accompanies this review.

Free at First, But…

The app is free initially but is limited to the conversion of 50 pages of text. Once those are used up, more conversions need to be obtained. Additional conversions can be purchased in bulk packages (100 pages for $0.99; 400 for $2.99 and 1,000 for $6.99) or as a monthly or lifetime subscription.

A monthly subscription is $2.99 on Android and $1.99 on iOS and provides unlimited conversions. The lifetime subscription is limited to 1,000 pages per month and costs $9.99 on both systems. Extra free conversions can be earned by posting the app to your Facebook page. Android users also have the option of jumping through various partner marketing program hoops via Tapjoy to earn additional pages.

Outside of the pricing difference and the option in Android to earn extra pages though partner marketing programs, the Android and ioS versions are identical with the exception of one feature. The iOS version lets you access the phone’s picture gallery directly from the app, whereas the Android version does not. Performance was equivalent on the two platforms.

Conclusion

Overall, VoxDox is a good text-to-speech engine with a unique social perspective. However, it is wrapped in a difficult UI that makes populating a project with text a challenge.

Pros

  • Clear and intelligible speech output
  • Project sharing through Facebook

Cons

  • Importing text is difficult
  • Small user base limits social benefits

 


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