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Speech-to-Speech Translation with Talk To Me

Posted on Feb 4, 2010 in Communication, Top Rated Apps | 13 comments

Have you ever been to a foreign country and wanted to know what a sign says?  Or, have you ever needed to talk to someone in a different language?  Now, with the power of Google Translate and Android TTS (text-to-speech) you can do all this and more with the app, Talk To Me.

Version: 1.1.3
Size: 201KB
Category: Communication
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.8/5

User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 4.5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Indispensability: 5/5

Talk To Me allows you to avoid language barriers by using a real-time speech-to-speech translator.  It is extremely easy to use and provides a great deal of real-world functionality.  If you’re traveling out of the country, you’ll definitely want this app in your back pocket (forget the dictionaries at home).

First and foremost, to be able to use this app, you’ll need to be running Android 1.6 or above.  You’ll also need an SD-card installed.  The app uses the built in Android TTS feature which you might have to download from the Android Market.

When you initially open the app, you’ll see the options for the speech-to-speech translation.  At this time, you can only translate speech from English to Spanish, French, German, Italian, and English (UK).  Like other apps with speech-recognition built in, just click the giant green microphone and speak.  The Android TTS feature does an incredible job at recognizing exactly what you said.  It will then play back the speech synthesized translation in the language you chose.  Incredibly, the accents seem pretty accurate and believable.

Now, if you’d like to translate to and from more languages, you can use the “Text and speech mode” found in the Menu.  There currently are 47 language choices in this mode.  Unfortunately with this option, you won’t be able to use the speech feature, but you can type in anything you’d like to translate.

Another great option built into this app is the ability to send a translation via SMS and email.  This is an incredibly useful and powerful feature which can be used for many purposes.  Note: some symbols might not be recognizable by your recipients phone, so keep that in mind when sending a message in another language.

Additional settings allow you to change the language used by the widget, speech rate, and speech pitch.  The widget is a quick way to translate your input (in English) to the language of your choice.

Overall, Talk To Me is an app that has great utility while also being extremely fun to just play around with.  Use it for business or to joke around with your friends, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of uses for it.  Scan or click the QR code for the direct link in the Android Market.

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New Twitter King? Top Android App: TweetCaster

Posted on Jan 29, 2010 in Communication, Top Rated Apps | comment

What we have here is a new contender in the Android Twitter app discussion.  Many of you have asked the seemingly simple question, “what is the best Twitter app for Android” and have found there is an extensive list to choose from (previously we gave our Top 5 Free Twitter Apps, which will now need updating).  Read on for more!

Version: 1.0
Size: 814KB
Category: Communication
Price: Free (Pro: $4.99)
Overall Score: 4.7/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Indispensability: 4.5/5
Here’s the breakdown of the pros/cons of TweetCaster.
Pros:
  • User-interface: Clean layout, icons, options, and functionality
  • Multiple accounts: A very desirable attribute of Twitter apps
  • Trends, searches, lists, etc.
  • Nearby tweets: See what’s going on around you
  • Tweet options: Shrink URLs, geotag, add picture, etc.
  • Speed: Quick responses throughout the app
  • Jump to Top: Feed also leaves off where you last checked
  • Real-time updates: Always on top of things!
  • Conversation threads
Cons:
  • Bubble text boxes: Bulky, and make less room for other tweets on each page
  • Heavy on resources: This has been seen with Twidroid too
  • No ‘reply all’: Seesmic has this implemented beautifully
  • No widget
  • No link for #hashtags
Discussion:

TweetCaster brings a new look and feel to the realm of Twitter Android apps.  First off, the UI is very attractive.  Like previous Twitter apps, you have 5 tabs to choose from; tweets, @replies, direct messages, favorites, and lists.  This offers you quick access to your most important content.
Your basic Twitter feed includes tweets in a bubble-like text box, which, depending on your preference, may be a good or bad thing.  Tweets by you have your picture on the opposite side of the page (right) and will be green in color. Similarly, if someone includes you in an @ mention, the tweet will be pink in color. These color settings allow you to quickly scan and search your Twitter feed.
When you write a message, clicking the ‘eye’ will split the screen so you can still see your Twitter feed.  This is  useful if you’re referencing something that someone else said.  Also, hitting the menu button as you write gives you the option to shrink URLs, geotag, or add a picture.  All of these easy-access features really streamline your Twitter experience.
If you click the ‘arrow’ next to your account name at the top, you can add additional accounts, view trending topics, perform a search, or check for a feed of nearby tweets.  This page offers you some really great functions that other Twitter apps have fell short in.  Multiple accounts is a must-have for any new Twitter app as it is one of the most requested features.  Also, you can save a specific search to be reused later.  This is extremely convenient if you’re like me and constantly search the same terms (I like to search for #androidapps to see what’s being discussed). Lastly, the ‘nearby’ feature lets you use your current location (or a zip code) to see what’s being tweeted about around you.
TweetCaster also makes it easy to manage your following/followers list as well as gives you the ability to ‘quick follow’ another user.  Add this to the list of things TweetCaster does very well.
Overall, TweetCaster is a strong threat for the title of top rated Android Twitter app. Twidroid and Seesmic still offer features that TweetCaster does not, and they have the advantage of already being adopted by many early users, but this app gives off a new vibe.  It has room to grow but it’s a great start for such a new app.  Give it a try and see what you think.  Let us know what features you like and which ones you’d like to see added.
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Top Android App: Seesmic

Posted on Dec 11, 2009 in Communication, Top Rated Apps | comment

Seesmic is a powerful Twitter client in the Android Market that offers many great features.

Application: Seesmic

Version: 1.0.1
Size: 553KB
Category: Communication
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.6/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 4.5/5
Originality: 4/5
Indispensability: 4.5/5
The basic layout of the app is very intuitive and well organized.  First, there are four main tabs that you would expect to see with any Twitter app: Timeline, Replies, Messages, and Profile.  The Timeline features the tweets from all the users that you follow.  Conveniently, there is an easily accessible Refresh button at the top of the page so you can constantly get the latest updates in one click.  Another nice design attribute is that all tweets written by you are colored differently so they are quickly identifiable.
Selecting on a specific tweet brings up a page that shows the user at the top (clicking there brings up that users profile which is very nice).  You can also star the tweet, write an @reply, retweet, or send a DM straight from the page.  A lot of functionality in one spot is always a boost to the ease of use of the app.
Another nice part of this app is the layout of the Profile tab (and also the profile you see when you select another user).  Here you have the option of checking out the users’ website, tweets, favorites, who they are following, and who is following them; all the useful information you really care about in one concise place.
As I mentioned before, the best part of this app is the features/connections it offers with the many other sites/services you use with Twitter.  You can choose a photo service (i.e. Twitpic), video service (i.e. YouTube), and URL shortening method (i.e. Bit.ly).  Once this is setup, your use of Twitter will be streamlined and you’ll be ready to share.  These are accessible when you choose to write a tweet.  Similarly, when you are composing a tweet, you can also choose to share your location.
One drawback I have found (and it may just be that I’m using this app on my original T-mobile G1) is that sometimes the loading times are slow (and number of tweets is set to only 50).  At least slower than when I’ve used Twitter with Twidroid.  Let me know if you’re experiencing this as well. 
Also, I wish they would have a way to start writing a tweet without having to hit menu first to bring up the option.  It’s not a big deal really, but since most of the app is navigated through the touch screen, this should have been included as well.
I really like the UI of Seesmic and the different tabs that are used for the clear-cut layout.  This app is right up there with Twidroid as one of the best on Android.
Scan the barcode with Barcode Scanner if you’d like to download this app in the market.
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Top Android App: Glympse

Posted on Dec 5, 2009 in Communication, Top Rated Apps | comment

Glympse is an extremely fast and easy way to safely share your location in real-time.  It is a safe alternative to other apps that constantly update your location in the fact that you can choose the time period that a person you choose is updated with your location.  Conveniently, a Glympse can be sent to an email or phone number for quick access.

Application: Glympse

Version: 1.14
Size: 633KB
Category: Communication
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.6/5
User Interface: 4.5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 4.5/5
Originality: 4.5/5
Indispensability: 4.5/5
You can run Glympse for just a moment to update a permanent location or for a few minutes to hours to track a particular path you may have taken to get to a specific location.  This option is great for giving someone directions to a place they are completely unfamiliar with.  Forget written directions or huge roadmaps, instead you have the exact GPS path tracked on your map.
Another huge upside to this app is that you don’t need to register to any site.  You don’t have to constantly update who or which sites are allowed to see your location; it’s set at the time you send each Glympse.
Overall, the focus on user privacy and the simplicity of using this app make it an extremely useful app.
Here is a quick, fun video review that has been posted to YouTube.

Scan with Barcode Scanner for direct link to Glympse in the Android Market.

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Top Android App: Twidroid

Posted on Dec 5, 2009 in Communication, Top Rated Apps | comment

Twidroid is a full-featured Twitter application.  You must sign-in to your Twitter account to begin using this application.

Application: Twidroid
Version: 3.0.0
Size: 1.29MB

Category: Communication
Price: Free
Overall Score: 4.7/5
User Interface: 4.5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Indispensability: 5/5
The home screen features an updated list of tweets from your followers as well a bottom toolbar of tabs for accessing the home screen, tweet text box, @replies, direct messages, search, and refresh.

A very nice feature that Twidroid has is the blue arrows next to each tweet in your feed.  These arrows offer quick, easy access to everything you might need to do.  From retweeting to copying the message to the clipboard, you have all your options in one click.
Aside from the obvious uses for the search tab, if you hit menu you can bring up an option for viewing the trending topics as well as the twittersphere.
Hitting menu from the home screen brings up a list of options including settings, profile, favorites, accounts, lists, and an exit application button.
Settings: There is an extensive list of options for this application.  You can add multiple accounts (available only in the PRO (paid) version), adjust the default # of tweets shown, choose a photo upload service, choose a url shortening service, and more.  The customizability here is one of the great features of this application.

Profile: See profile information including name, location, followers, etc. like you would see with the full Twitter webpage.  Within this screen you can edit your profile image, location, bio, and more.

Overall, this application has a very user-friendly interface that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is intuitive to use.  This is one of (if not the) best Twitter application that is currently offered in the Android Market.  Also, it constantly is getting updates so newer and better features are being added all the time.  It is extremely easy to customize this application to your liking and because of that, it is a must have application for all Twitter users on Android.

Scan with Barcode Scanner for the link to Twidroid in the Android Market.

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