If you’re big on Twitter and following tweets and ever thought, “Wow, it would be so cool if I could hear tweets instead of reading them,” then check out Talking Tweet for iPhone. This app is designed as a Twitter client that vocalizes new tweets using speech synthesis, which is supposed to result in a natural sounding voice and translate text in foreign languages to English. Talking Tweet is going head to head with Tweet Talk as a free Twitter Client set on enhancing users’ Twitter experience.
While I suppose there is some general appeal to the idea of talking tweets, it holds none for me. That said, Talking Tweet does indeed vocalize new tweets from friends you follow or public tweets, depending on which you choose. One thing about Talking Tweet that may doom it from the start is the obvious lack of user interface. For instance, if you launch the app and begin playing public tweets, but then want to switch to friends, you have to close it and launch it again.
Though it’s based on a potentially appealing idea, there are other shortcomings that may hold it back.
Not being an expert in speech synthesis engines, I have no idea how difficult it would be to run one that recognizes the lingo most people use on Twitter. Probably near impossible; so one should be trained to ignore anything that’s not an actual word to avoid annoying the listener. In other words, it doesn’t know the meaning of a symbol, so it actually vocalizes the symbol itself by saying things like “underscore,” “semi colon,” “P.” So in short, “wink, wink” is lost on speech synthesis and the added agony of hearing idioms and symbols strung out in unnecessary interpretation is ridiculous.
At the risk of beating up on Talking Tweet too much, it must be said that there is nothing “natural” or “human” sounding about the voice it uses. There just isn’t. You have the option of purchasing additional voices by making an add on purchase in the app, but if they’re as bad as the default, why would you. And while it does translate some foreign languages into English, it doesn't translate them all. If you follow international tweets, you’re better off reading them.
In short, if you have ever had a reason to wish you could hear your tweets and don’t really care how they sound or how they’re read, then Talking Tweet delivers at no cost to you. The recommendation is to play tweets with your device plugged into a power source, so one can only assume it drains battery life, though I didn’t notice this to be a problem. Perhaps it would be if your following a huge list, but for me, I can’t stand to hear the guy talk long enough for battery life to become an issue.