Monday, July 12, 2010

Welcoming Loquendo Susan To Android (FroYo)

Android 2.2 (AKA FroYo) introduces many platform enhancements, and one that I find particularly relevant is the ability to plug-in additional Text-To-Speech engines. What this means from an end-user point of view:

  • Android comes with a set of built-in voices since Android 1.6 --- these are the Pico voices for English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
  • With the Text-ToSpeech plug-in mechanism in place, we can now add new engines to the platform.
  • The first such add-on was ESpeak, which brings support for many of the world's languages.
  • And now, vendors are able to sell high-quality add-on voices via the Android Market.
  • Loquendo Susan is the first commercially available voice for Android. Users running FroYo can buy this voice on the Android Market. Thanks to the plug-in mechanism, once you buy a new voice, you can switch all your talking applications to use the newly installed voice --- see instructions below.

Activating And Using Newly Installed Voices

Goto Settings → Voice Input And Output → Text To Speech Settings. First, activate the newly installed voice by clicking the corresponding checkbox item for that voice. Next, go to Default Engine in the Text To Speech Settings menu, and make the newly installed voice your default engine. Finaly, if you want all applications to use the new voice, check option Always use my settings

With this in place, my Nexus and Droid both speak using Loquendo Susan --- thus turning my Android into into a truly pleasant eyes-free device.