Published 2016-07-04 -- Innovative news reader App NewsBot 2 is fully compatible with VoiceOver, allowing visually impaired or blind people to keep in touch with their favourite newspapers.
Author: Patrick Jayet - Contact: newsbot.mobi
Quote: "The earphone remote or car wheel command can be used to remotely control the app without having to interact with its screen."
Fresh Name and Smiling Robot
The NewsBot app gets a new name to better express what it does: automated news reading - the app was previously called "Telme John". The icon has been redesigned to match the app name.
The speech synthesis has been improved. It is not necessary to install enhanced voices in the iPhone settings anymore. More high quality voices are available within the app, which should appeal to existing as well as new users.
A short movie is now available on the app's website (http://newsbot.mobi). It illustrates the principal use cases of the reader app.
Busy people use NewsBot to let it read them the news while doing sport.
It is cumbersome to open a large newspaper in a crowded bus or in the tube. Automated reading comes in a handy in such a situation. NewsBot can also read articles directly from the Twitter or Safari apps on iOS - using the app extension.
NewsBot, which is fully compatible with VoiceOver, allows visually impaired or blind people to keep in touch with their favourite newspaper, in a simple and easy way.
Driving while keeping in touch with the news thanks to NewsBot.
The app can also be controlled from the wheel command - e.g. pausing or skipping to the next article while keeping the eyes on the road - recent cars are necessary for this function. In addition, the article title will show up on the dashboard (if supported by the car).
How the app works
The app does not need any special format like RSS. It loads directly the newspaper website and extracts the article index and then each article from the web content. It uses a service which takes advantage of Computer Vision algorithms in order to visually interpret the newspaper layout. NewsBot version 2 now supports Spanish, in addition to English, French and German.
Earphone or wheel command
The earphone remote or car wheel command can be used to remotely control the app without having to interact with its screen. This is a handy functionality while jogging, driving or cooking.
Twitter and Safari integration
A NewsBot app extension allows any app, like Twitter or Safari, which manages and present articles, to get the text read aloud.
Feedback from first version
Version 1 - called "Telme John" - had a pretty good press coverage. In Switzerland, the Sonntagszeitung or blick.ch, which is one of the largest news portal in the country, wrote about the app. Lots of user feedbacks have flown in and allowed to identify the most critical features to improve: higher quality voices and better usability.
The app creator is IT Consultant living in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland
The app creator and developer lives in Zurich and Lausanne where he works as Software Engineer developing software projects for large customers. NewsBot has been designed and written in his free time after observing that no easy solution for semi-automated reading was existing for the iPhone. Patrick studied at the ETH in Zurich with a specialisation in Distributed System and Artificial Intelligence. He has been interested very early in developing for the mobile platform, already starting making apps with the iPhone SDK in 2008.
NewsBot: free from the App Store