Along with our existing app Friends Aloud, all of our apps keep you totally connected by reading aloud various sources of your social media. And some of them -- notably Read It Aloud and Emails Aloud -- begin our foray into speech input with a hands-free mode that lets you speak to the apps to control their operation instead of having to tap the iPod-like controls or anywhere onscreen. For instance, Read It Aloud will announce the headlines of each article in your Google Reader feed and pause a couple of seconds after each, at which point you can say things like "Read that" or "Skip It." When you are using the app in speaker mode, it only listens during pauses in the reading aloud process, so that its voice does not inadvertently trigger its voice controls. But when you're using the app on a Bluetooth or wired headset, voice controls are continuously active and enable you to control the apps completely hands-free.
One of the disappointments we have discovered in building this line of apps stems from the absence of input modality from some of the APIs. For instance, we originally designed Messages Aloud to enable you to reply to incoming Facebook messages using only your voice. Unfortunately, Facebook's API does not enable message sending, only message receiving, so that app is less functional than we had intended. Happily, such is not the case with the (unofficial) Twitter API that we're using, nor with Facebook's API for wall postings, nor with the various APIs we are using for Emails Aloud. So those apps will evolve a complete voice input functionality, even if they don't have it right out of the chute.
As each app makes it way past Apple's reviewers, we will announce it here (and everywhere!) as it becomes available for sale. So please stay tuned. If you're a user of any sort of RSS feed reader such as Google Reader, you can of course follow this blog by simply adding it to your feed. Or subscribe to email updates by entering your email address on the box on the right beneath the Categories.