Speech Central has added Bookshare integration

iOS & iPadOS

I would like first to express the gratitude to this great community for the feedback that it has provided in my initial post (https://www.applevis.com/forum/ios-ios-app-discussion/introducing-speec…) regarding my app Speech Central, which is available at the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speech-central-web-text-to/id1127349155… .

Thanks to that feedback there have been many improvements in the accessibility of the app like support for DAISY format, new navigation functions that can be assigned to audio control buttons, audio messages for some changes in the interface, labels for some tables etc. But one really notable feature that is worth to be announced separately is the integration with the Bookshare service that also came as the result of the user request. The app now allows the user to log in to the Bookshare service, search books and import them to the app.

The app has a free tier and you can access Bookshare books with it with limitation that only one book can be imported at a time (to import new one you need to delete the last one) and that you can't add more than two books in one day.

Customizable audio button shortcuts should make the imported book quite accessible, you can use them with stock iPhone headphones for moving to the next/previous sentence, paragraph, 30 seconds period, title, bookmark, chapter or book.

I am looking forward for further suggestions and hope to add more useful features like this one in the future.



Submitted by Tony on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

it's awesome to have another option for reading Bookshare content without having to spend what I think is too much on Voice Dream or Read2Go. Unfortunately I can't figure out how to access Bookshare on Speech Central. Also, the app doesn't say how much the pro add-on costs. I would like to know this before I click the button in the Extras tab to purchase. I suggest you make it more intuitive to access Bookshare and that you add the price to the item in the Extras tab for buying the pro add-on.

Submitted by Labsii on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hi Tony, thanks for your nice words.

I tried to make it is as intuitive as I could - go to Articles & Books tab (the title on the tab is just Articles as there is no more space on the tab, but when you open it the app will present whole the title in the header), click on '+' (Add) and then choose Books & Documents and then Bookshare. If you have some suggestions on how to make it more intuitive, I would appreciate it, every improvement is welcome and I have learnt a lot from the users.

Considering the price information, I agree that if users face the problem it should be made better. However, this is just an application dialog, and you can't be charged for anything that isn't Apple's dialog. So after you click it you would get Apple's dialog where you also have the price and of course option to accept or cancel the transaction. Also information on the price is available in the App Store page. The price is 4.99$ if you are in the US. As said I accept that it should be better to show the price somewhere in the app too (but keep in mind that someone can trick you by showing false price in the app as he may show a wrong price so it is always the best option to check the price in the Apple's dialog and not to rely on what app says).

Submitted by Tony on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I'm grateful for the quick reply. This will make me look pretty stupid, but it was the fact that the tab name was only called Articles that confused me. If I had had any brains at that moment, I would have clicked it and seen the full heading, but no. Lol. I did end up purchasing the pro add-on, but I didn't see any price at all, which I'm sure is not your fault. When I clicked the button to buy the pro add-on, I was asked for my touch ID, which I provided, and then I immediately got an alert stating that my purchase had been successful with an OK button. This is not a problem in my case, as you did tel me the price, but I thought I should let you know precisely how this transaction went for your edification. Knowledge is power, as they say.

I have to give you some serious kudos on the accessibility of this app. I just got it a little while ago and I can tell I'm really going to love it. I might have emore questions, and I'm pleased you're so willing to entertain feedback.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

One thing I noticed is that if I exit a book and then go back into that same book, my place is not kept. It will start me back at the beginning of the book. So far on my iPhone I am finding this app to be easy to use. IIf I purchase the pro upgrade on my phone and also purchase it on my Mac will the reading positions be kept across devices? If not is this a possible feature that could be added in the future?

Greg Wocher

Submitted by Labsii on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In general, the place in the book is remembered and I cannot reproduce any case where it is not remembered. I would need some more detailed description on what you do to give some advice regarding this.

Considering the syncing, the app was designed for syncing across all platforms (iOS, macOS, Windows, Android), and all that is missing is a press on the button to activate the server and some elements of UI. Unfortunately, that press on the button would cost me a little more than 100$ a month or more than my current iOS revenues or very close to my current macOS revenues, so at least as of now I cannot afford that. I'll activate the function when I have a stable revenue of more than 1000$ from all platforms (otherwise it may happen that the revenues go down and that I must shut down the server which would be probably the end of the app). I can't estimate when that may happen, but hopefully it will happen in the next 12 month period.

Other than that if this strategy fails it is possible that I'll implement iCloud sync as it is free, but I haven't estimated how complicated that would be yet so I can't give some precise prospects regarding that option.

Talking about revenues, I haven't comment the pricing of Voice Dream Reader and other players above, as I understand the issue from users side, but I think you should take that also from developer's side - I think it is also a single developer company and as far as some app earning estimation goes that guy earns a lot lot more than me (several 100x more), but still not much more (if any) than some very good developer working at Google, so from his perspective he probably just can't afford to work for much less in the long term.

Anyway if you want to help me build enough revenue to support that server, aside from activating in-app purchase you can help a lot by rating the app in the App Store, and at the end of the day even just using the app is still helpful as it should have some influence in the rankings in the App Store.

Submitted by Labsii on Thursday, August 3, 2017


you were right for the problem with keeping place. In general if the book has more than one chapter (and most do) in later chapters this information is getting lost due to one bug.

It will be fixed in the next release, hopefully next Monday. Also of note for the last several months the app had updates with new features nearly every week. New features for this week will be Popular and Latest lists for Bookshare.

Submitted by Labsii on Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tony, I have just tried to check what happens after you click Buy and one should see iTunes dialog with this text: "Enter your password to confirm your In-App Purchase of 1 Speech Central Pro for $4.99". Not sure why it was different for you as this is a system function.

Anyway I am also just completing the work to add the price info inside the app, so thanks for your suggestion.

Submitted by Labsii on Friday, August 4, 2017

I've also added Accessibility label for the Articles tab to be called "Articles & Books" on VoiceOver - visually there is no place for whole the title, but on VoiceOver it is not a problem, so people will have less of a confusion.

Tony, thanks again for sharing the problem. I encourage you and everyone to share any problem they have as while it might be a result of the technical limitations of the platform, there are frequently creative workarounds and conversation with users helps to find them.

Submitted by Tony on Sunday, August 6, 2017


I'm looking forward to the new update of Speech Central with your additions, and I'm grateful to you for your continued effort to incorporate user feedback so actively. I do, however, want to let you know about an issue I've run into. I loaded an html document containing h1, h2, and h3 tags along with opening and closing p tags in addition to the usual starting and ending html tags. When going into the navigation menu and choosing title, it only reads the first 3 or 4 of heading tags. Specifically in this file, the h3 tags represent chapter headings of a lengthy book. It appears from my experimentation here that the headings are not at all visible. Nothing in an h tag gets read when I activate the play button except for h2 tags. My suggestion is this: Add an item to the navigation menu in an article called headings that will list anything in h tags. Perhaps an item for each h tag (h1 through h6). There already appears to be some kind of division of an HTML document into smaller chunks, though I haven't yet figured out how this division is done. I also don't yet understand what Speech Central considers a chapter division in an html document. I even cleaned the document with HTML tidy for Windows to be sure that there were no tag errors. the tags within the body tags solely consist of h1, h2, h3, and opening and closing p tags. There is only one h1 and one h2 tag. The h3 tags are around 25 or so, and none of them gets read when playing the document. The one h2 tag in this file does get read. Everything between the opening and closing p tags gets read just fine. There are closing p tags before each h3 tag. I hope this is enough information as the book is copyrighted, so I can't give the file out for inspection.

Again, thanks for being so receptive to feedback.

Submitted by Labsii on Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hi Tony, thanks for sharing more details. Titles in navigation in general do exactly what you ask for. However, html is optimized for the web content and not for html books (it is optimized for the book content when it is processed as part of the epub file or eml file), that's likely reason why it may happen. I'll try to do some reasonable checks whether the content is the book or web if it is a file. Considering the chapters for now they are automatically created if the text is longer than 3 hours. In some previous version from several years ago when devices were less powerful it was a necessity and it was set to 1 hour. I made some performance improvements when loading the large files (in the current version it takes some time to be displayed), so I might remove this restriction.

Submitted by Tony on Sunday, August 6, 2017

I would very much appreciate not having the file divided this way. If you're concerned about performance, then perhaps you could make it a setting whether or not to split files longer than x amount of time versus loading the whole file at once. I convertedthe file I've been working with into an epub, and the titles (heading tags) now read just fine. It turns out, if I'm not mistaken, that I can only see the first 2-3 titles because that's all that is available in the 3-hour chunk (chapter).

Labsii, I believe that your app deserves to topple Voice Dream Reader from its long reign. that IMO overpriced app has acquired a poor reputation due to bugs, and I want to help in any way I can in making Speech Central the app that most or all people think of when they think of these types of reading apps. If you feel at any time that you need to raise the price, that would certainly be your prerogative, of course. However, you clearly have the expertise and desire to make the price justifiable. I have other half formed ideas to suggest, but I need to get my thoughts together on them before I do that.

Submitted by Labsii on Sunday, August 6, 2017

Just to note that 3 hour chapters don't mean that the rest of the content is lost, just it goes into the next chapter, so you should be able to see following titles if you switch the chapter in the Navigation page.

I think that right now the app is optimized enough so that I can disable this (at least on iOS), so I'll do that in the next version. Some of the things coming in that version is also better handling of html file, and I'll set fine speed default to +10% when the new user uses VoiceOver (as those users generally prefer fast and even much faster speech), there will be some more features that I'll build during the week (the plan is to add Paste button in the footer of the Articles table and display it when it makes sense).

I really appreciate your words. Voice Dream Reader is a nice app, Speech Central will close some of the feature gap (like PDF support will come with iOS 11, few more settings also), and it has and will try to have more its own distinctive features.

Right now the thing you can do to help is to rate the app in the App Store - the app has currently has less than 5 ratings in every country (in US it is very close to that with 4 ratings), so the average rating is not displayed in the search and it quite negatively influences both people that search and rankings...

I'm looking forward to hear your ideas. As the app has fairly good feature set and fairly low revenues I am more focused on promoting the app at the moment, but the development never stops just it might not be in the full speed always, but half speed is still faster than what many do.

Submitted by Labsii on Friday, August 18, 2017

New version is out today, it should have those improvements that we were talking about here.