Looking for a Messaging Platform that Speaks Incoming Messages as They Appear

Other Apple Chat

Hello! I am particularly interested in finding something for MacOS but happily would accept something that works only in iOS at this point...

I have been relying on MacOS Apple Messages (formerly iMessage) for years for very usable and natural chatting and texting. This natural feeling was due to Messages' ability to speak incoming messages in real time as they appear on the screen. So I could just type frustration-free on my keyboard (keeping the cursor in the text entry field), messaging back and forth with a friend or colleague, and just listen as their responses came in... It was gloriously simple and even worked without Voiceover. This was easily enabled in the Messages Preferences by choosing Speak Events.applescript in the AppleScript Handler dropdown menu.

However, Apple has removed the AppleScript handler option from Messages in MacOS High Sierra 10.13.4 (i.e. the most recent update at time of posting). To make matters worse, there is no incoming message sound played at all when a message comes in on the active window, so I don't even know when to navigate my Voiceover cursor back to the messages window to find any new messages that might have come in. This makes MacOS Messages essentially useless to me now. I have already complained to Apple Access but the rep did not seem to care and only said that it was intentionally removed. I think I cried after that phone call, out of anger, frustration, and a feeling of defeat since generally I find it's only Apple that cares to make software truly accessible.

So now I'm looking for an alternative option. Does anyone out there have one?

To hit upon some potential suggestions in advance,
1. I could use Siri and dictation, as I do all the time with my iPhone, but it is very unnatural and slow, and dictation is not very reliable compared to typing on a keyboard.
2. I could use a bluetooth keyboard with my iPhone, as I occasionally do, but I still need to navigate the VO cursor back each time a new message comes in.
3. Facebook Messenger is a joke when it comes to accessibility, at least in my experience.
4. WhatsApp is actually pretty darn good on iOS with a bluetooth keyboard and even works with Siri, but it doesn't read messages aloud in real time, which is what I'm looking for. Sadly, the WhatsApp web platform that can be used on MacOS (i.e. using it within a browser) is completely incompatible with Voiceover. Plus I'm in the USA, where WhatsApp isn't super popular, so not all my contacts have it.

Please, anyone, help! And if it's just a matter of VO settings or customizations, please inform me! THANKS!

And if no such software platform exists, then what do you all find is the most usable way to text and chat? While my vision deteriorates, I don't want my social circle to do the same.



Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The following list of clients may be of interest to you, though for at least two of them, their time for sticking around is unknown at this point.

1. Colloquy - IRC Client:
, speaks incoming messages automatacly . The trick is getting folks on to it, though shoudln't be too hard since IRC is "everywhere!"

2. KakaoTalk
, available for both PC and mobile, is very accessible on all platforms. On the PC side, its even more accessibile on the Mac than the windows side.
One particular reason why I love KakaoTalk, are their "open chats" for people who do not wish to install the app, though still wish to participate in the conversation. You can have up to 500 people in one, though you can limit that number of people at your discretion. (By default, its set to 100.)
There's also a "walky-talky" feature, group calls up to 5 people, voice notes up to 5 minutes in length, no one has done a "proper" podcast on this app for either Mac or iOS, yet.
For those concerned about giving out phone numbers, its only used for "sign up/verification," unless "you" the user wants to have people find you by it.
Don't like sharing your phone number, use your "Kakao ID/User Name" instead!
PS. Kakaotalk has been around since 2010, and has 49,000,000 active users monthly around the world.

3. Hangouts
As much as I "loved" hangouts from back in the day, no one knows how long its gonna be sticking around as a "normal" chatting platform, since Google is turnning it in to a "meeting/slack-like" competitor.

4. Allo
Great platform! Love the stickers! I was one of the beta testors for it! (Android Platform.)

Thanks to Google "pauseing" Allo development to work on the RCS thing called "Chat" with carriers and most functions of Allo being folded in to Chat in the future anyway, ... You see were this is going.

Those are the only other options I know, for soething that you'd like. I hope one of those helps in some way though...

Thanks for all the suggestions and info, Trenton!

I will look into all of these options... well maybe not the Google ones since I'm totally on the same page as you about Google constantly changing things! But I'm curious to see what kind of features Google's newest chat platform will have, and how compatible it will be with VO...

I reckon you may be an Android users with needs that differ from mine, but out of curiosity, what is currently your chat platform of choice?

Thanks again!

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Thursday, April 26, 2018

Hi there, and you're very welcome!

I myself primarily these days use Kakaotalk and Whatsapp for chatting, especially since I have groups on both platforms.
Please feel free to PM or find me on Kakao Talk for more details. my "Kakao ID" is also the same as here, "queenslight."

Since "Chat" by Google technically is only an "easier" name for "RCS" and its not an actual platform though its made for Android, who knows if Apple themselves would want to bring RCS to its iMessage platform in the first place.

Thanks again!