Our Macs can talk but they’re not saying anything to us. Why not? From Star Trek to C3PO and R2D2, computers have been able to talk.
Our Macs can talk but they don’t say anything. Are we afraid to listen? Your Mac can read interviews in different voices using the right utility and voice.
Many Mac users don’t know that the Mac can speak. Macs can read text in a variety of voices, some surprisingly good, others, not so much. Whatever happened to the future of voice communication with our Macs, to our Macs, from our Macs?
I ask that question as a long-time Trekkie who wonders where the two-way communication with our Mac super computers has gone. The Mac has the ability to conduct a two-way, ongoing conversation or dialog with the user, but the number of applications that take advantage of the technology is woefully small.
Using Narrator, a classy application from Dejal, your Mac can speak voices, save the voices as files for iTunes and your iPod.
We interact with our Macs in a decidedly one-way process. We click to tell our Macs what to do. Sometimes the Mac tells us, with pop up dialog boxes, what it did, sometimes not.
Otherwise, the communication between Mac users and Macs is, well, not much. Narrator changes that, but only in a small step, an evolution, not a revolution.
Narrator will read text on your Mac, a play or a story or an interview with different voices that make up the various parts. The Mac’s speech synthesis capability reads out the text for various characters, say, male, then female, then a different character voice.
Simply put, Narrator reads voices out loud using one of your Mac’s built-in synthesized voices. But that’s not all. Narrator controls not only the voice selected, but the rate, pitch, inflection, and volume for each voice.
For example, a story may have narrated text, plus the dialog of a number of characters. Narrator lets you assign different voices to different sections or characters of the story.
For interviews, Narrator can ask the questions and answer questions using a different voice; one for the interviewer, one for the interviewee. All the voices can be recorded and exported as a standard AAC file which can be played back in iTunes, or on your iPod or iPhone.
Narrator is $19 and may represent a glimpse into the future of how we communicate with our Macs, and our Mac communicates to us—by voice.
Voice is not new to the Mac though it has failed to catch on for the average user. Plyxim publishes a freeware application called Say It Save It which also reads text out loud using one of your Mac’s selected voices.
Say It Save It can save the audio as an MP3 file, which can also be played back in iTunes.
I remain hopeful that our Macs will begin to communicate with us in a more personal method, not altogether unlike Majel Barrett’s voice of the Computer in Star Trek. We’re not there yet.