Despite nearly three decades of speech capability, your Mac doesn’t say much. It plays music. It plays movies. It acts like a phone with Skype and iChat.
Unlike the computers in Star Trek, your Mac just doesn’t say much, despite having text-to-speech capability built in to OS X. Maybe that’s about to change. News Anchor is a Mac app which wants to bring you the future. A Mac that reads the news.
Not Quite The Future We Want To Hear
With all the horsepower available in our Macs these days (compared to a Mac of 1984) speech still isn’t mainstream. There are a number of Mac apps which will read text and convert it to speech.
Even Mac OS X will do that right out of the box.
Open System Preferences and click on the Speech icon in the Systems settings. Alex is my favorite voice. This is nice technology that’s been around a few decades but still doesn’t do much.
Simply put, News Anchor is a text-to-speech news reader which aims to free you from reading the news on various web pages, and have your Mac read the news to you. So, it acts as a visual and audio news anchor and, well, it reads the news.
Think of News Anchor as a television reporter or news reader who sits in a window on your Mac and reads your RSS feeds. News Anchor pulls the summary data from the RSS feed and reads it using a Mac voice. Channel episodes are generated based on the articles in the feeds.
Once News Anchor begins reading then you can move on to other tasks on your Mac while you listen to the news. Or, you can watch News Anchor’s anchor news reader read the news. Watch?
The decidedly animated news anchor in News Anchor moves his lips while a graphic matching the story sits in the upper right corner of the TV-like window.
This is where old Mac technology meets old Saturday morning cartoons.
In other words, Alex, the great voice in your Mac, sounds great, but the Alex-like news anchor on the TV-like screen looks more like some character from Scooby Doo—a little cartoonish. No, a lot cartoonish.
News Anchor has promise, if not polish and shine. This is one of those new Mac apps that I want to see work very well. And I still want it to work very well. That smoothly integrated, futuristic promise just isn’t quite fulfilled—yet. But News Anchor is worth a look.
Mac360 looked at a similar Mac app almost exactly two years ago. My colleague Carol Mary Miller came to the same conclusion with News Hawker.