Monthly Archives

February 2018

These Apps are a Must for the Audio Nerd in You

By | Audiobooks, reading, Software | No Comments

These Apps are a Must for the Audio Nerd in You

At Speechify, all of our team love listening. If you are also an audio lover, you are going to fall for our tree favorites audio apps:

1. Breaker.Audio is the Goodreads of Podcasts

Sure, maybe you use Goodreads to catch up with what your friends have been reading, Letterbox to write a scathing review of that movie you saw last week, Pocket for articles, and Spotify for music. But what about podcasts?

As podcasts flourish, apps like Overcast, or Castro continue to impress with their design and functionality, yet they remain void of the ability for users to discuss, debate, and connect with others enthusiasts about the thriving medium. Basically, they lack a social network.

Breaker.audio, is an app that tackles the urgency for podcasters to indulge in a social network, the same way that many of us get to enjoy with books, film, and music, by creating a podcast platform that implements community — while maintaining a stunning, minimalist UX. Breaker.audio could be just the change you and your fellow podcasters are looking for.

A key feature over a lot of the other apps on the market is that Breaker.audio pulls in your social graph to show you what other people listen and subscribe to — leave comments, like episodes, follow other users, and create an ecosystem that is, essentially, all things podcast.

Go ahead and download Breaker for free on the App Store today!

 

2. Listen to your favorite audiobooks with Libro.FM

For those of us who are often reprimanded for choosing the luxury of physical books over completing daily chores, audiobooks can be a practical solution for your favorite hobby. Continue to indulge, whilst actually getting to the gym, or finishing house chores.

Libro.fm has created a new online platform that allows independent bookstores to offer digital audiobooks to their customers through free cobranded online storefronts. With Libro.fm you can choose from over 90,000 audiobooks.

Get your first month of membership for just $0.99 for $14.99 every month, you get one credit per month to purchase any audiobook and credits never expire. That means books that are usually $30 + are only fifteen dollars, and extra books are only 99 cents? Enjoy the superior Libro.fm experience, an independent, and cheap alternative for you audiobook lovers.

What’s more? Do you work at an independent bookstore? Libro.fm will give you free audiobooks each month (Fire & Fury, Woman in the window, Wife Between Us just to name a few of the best sellers that have been offered to those in the book industry). Either way, Libro is a cheap option for audiobook listeners, without compromising on design or audio quality.

3. Spreaker is the Future of Internet Radio

Are you looking for an online radio show recording program to promote your brand?

The Spreaker service — much like Soundcloud and Audioboom — has so far offered a two-stage dynamic. Podcasters can use the website or a mobile app to record a podcast, and upload the results to the service’s hosting, where they might pay a subscription or get a limited amount of space for free where listeners can stream or download content at their leisure.

Broadcast live from exciting events happening near you. Share your original music with the world. Express yourself and share your passions. Start an audio blog. Broadcast play-by-plays from sports events. Get your project started for a ridiculously cheap price.

 

Of course, our favorite apps is Speechify! Take a look at our website and find out how our app can help you listen faster to anything, everywhere you go.

5 Podcasts You Need to be Listening to Right Now

By | Podcasts | No Comments

5 Podcasts You Need to be Listening to Right Now

Are podcasts the new late-night TV? Probably not, but still. From hot technology trends, fresh entrepreneurial advice, to candid laughs with your favorite talk show host — chances are there’s an undiscovered podcast out there to match your needs and desire.

If you haven’t jumped on the podcast bandwagon just yet, check out these undeniably significant podcasts to see if they can do the trick. Watch out for these game changers in the podcasting world:

 

1. Start Up

StartUp is a documentary series educating you on how to start a business from the ground up, all whilst cracking jokes and relaying entertaining stories.

The show has been downloaded millions of times since its launch in 2014. It is imperative you start listening to it right now if you’re interested in starting or keeping a business.

Its first season has been adapted into an ABC sitcom called Alex, Inc. starring Zach Braff. StartUp has won a Gracie Award and the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism.

 

2. How to Be Amazing

How to be Amazing is a long-form, comprehensive, thoughtful interview show, hosted by comedian, author, and actor Michael Ian Black.

Every episode is standing roughly one hour long. During them, Black gets down to the nitty-gritty with some of today’s most provocative writers, entertainers, artists, innovative thinkers, and politicians. He creates humorous thought-provoking conversations that leap right into the intricate minds of some of the most influential voices of our generation.

Listen to episodes with Nate Silver, Tavi Gevinson, Naomi Klein and so many more.

 

3. The Tim Ferriss Show

One of the most popular business podcasts of all time, The Tim Ferriss Show is a must listen.

In this show, Ferriss deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.

 

4. 2 Dope Queens

Hosted by Phoebe Robinson and Jon Stewart’s Jessica Williams, 2 dope queens is a timely and unequaled show touching on topics including race, discrimination, and LGBTQ rights.

Recently picked up by HBO, Williams, Robinson, and their various guests offer insightful commentary for anyone trying to understand the current political climate. Or what those who are affected by it are doing to combat it. Not without their share of comedy, however, 2 Dope Queens uses their sharp wit to comment on the society around them.

Including guests such as Tig Notaro, Jon Hamm, Hasan Minhaj, and obviously, so much more.

 

5. Lean Startup

Yes, the best seller is a podcast now.

Learn from top start-up founders, entrepreneurs, and startup experts. Every week, a new guest who is literally on fire is interviewed and shares fresh knowledge, insights and actionable advice from their own personal successes and failures.

 

If you are also in the search for some good books, go take a look at our 5 books recommendations of 2018.

I Used a TTS App for a Week – You Won’t Believe the Results

By | Audiobooks, education, productivity, reading, Software | No Comments

I Used a TTS App Called Speechify for an Entire Week and You Won't Believe the Results

If you’ve been on the internet anytime in the last 6 months, then you’ve maybe heard of an app called Speechify. It’s a new, trendy, TTS app (text to speech) that has everyone from students to working professionals raving about the wonders of having your tedious readings read to you.

This was enticing to me. I’m a pretty busy guy. I play college basketball, work part-time, and try to keep a solid GPA. I’m not exactly what you would call a ‘slow reader’. Still, that doesn’t mean I like to read. I come back pretty tired after practice and I usually just find myself thinking: “Do I actually have to complete all these readings?

Founded by Forbes 30 under 30, Cliff Weitzman, Speechify started after years of coping with dyslexia coupled with frustrating experiences of trying out un-inspiring TTS apps.

“It started after I pulled my fourth all-nighter,” Weitzman told us. “I was pretty fed up of how hard it was to manage my dyslexia alongside all the coursework. I wasn’t satisfied with the expensive options on the market, so I drafted up the first “Speechify” concept!”

So — could a Brown student coping with dyslexia and a love of audiobooks really design a software that could help rid the world of painful readings? Over this past week, I used Speechify to find out if this really is the solution for me.

Here’s how it went …

My Seven day Free Trial Begins!

Everyone loves a free trial. And what’s even more loveable is, Speechify won’t charge you after the free trial expires without your permission. Whether that be a password, a fingerprint, or facial recognition — I’ve got to admit, not trying to be scammed out of my money, feels good.

The free version of the app gives me full access to the mobile app. Which, is pretty useful for obvious reasons, but Speechify Pro lets me transform PDFs into audiobooks and send them to my iPhone. So, I can listen to them pretty much anywhere.

You can create entire libraries and collections for your favorite articles, unread emails, and pending coursework to be read to you any time of the day.

For a college student, this feature is extremely useful.

There are three ways you can use Speechify.

  1. Chrome Extension
  2. iOS
  3. Mobile App

I’m personally pretty excited about the PDF to iPhone feature since I get so many readings assigned via PDF and can just directly send them to my phone to be listened to while I heat up some dinner after a long day of work.

As I opened the downloaded the Ios feature, I could tell that Speechify had done a great job of developing a pleasant on-boarding experience. They gave me a quiz to see what my main intention of using the app and walked me through the entire process step by step.

Oh, and not to mention the first thing speechify read out loud to me was a Wikipedia article on giraffes… I liked it.

Figuring out the app

Like most people, I don’t read directions. I skimmed the instructional emails and was good to go. They walk you through it pretty well, so it’s easy to figure out.

Time to fire it up and give Speechify a go

The first thing I use Speechify for is a reading assigned by my Politics Professor about late capitalism in the mid-twentieth century. Kind of a snooze.

I typically skip over words when I’m finishing up last minute readings (and sometimes I do it even when I’m not last minute reading). And with larger, longer readings, I skip entire paragraphs in hopes to save a few minutes and pray I’ve gotten the“gist” of the material.

Speechify doesn’t make this silly mistake. It makes sure I’m taking in everything the text has to offer. I can just toggle the speed to 5x the speed to get the reading done a little faster than usual and digest all the information without skipping over anything.

As I was listening, I realized I’ve never really understood how fascinating the topic my teacher assigned was. It’s always just been a mundane chore… but, the text was actually pretty interesting…and having it read aloud by Speechify helped me realize that.

I know people say we should read thirty minutes a day. But that can feel like forever. Speechify encourages their users to read more often, by giving them the option to listen to their extraneous texts whilst on the go. As you can imagine, it was a fun surprise.

Speechify is giving listening to a new name…

To be honest, the primary reasons I’m skeptical of most text-to-speech apps because:

  • The voices sound too unnatural
  • They’re too hard to figure out
  • You can’t get the voice to match your desired speed

Fortunately, Speechify solves these pain points. The app has a variety of natural voices to chose from, a range of speeds for you to listen, and a user experience to die for.

But what was the most noticeable difference between Speechify and other TTS apps I’ve used? Speechify made getting work done a whole lot more interesting.

In conclusion…

One week was all that was required to make a solid judgment on Speechify.

Here are the 4 things I love most about Speechify:

1. Design & Functionality — For the first time in my life, I can call a text-to-speech app “attractive” The design uses effective minimalism to heighten user experience. More important than its design, is its functionality. Speechify works. I can literally use it anywhere. I have it effectively read to me, and enjoy how it looks while doing it.

2. Versatility — There are no limits to when and where you can use this thing. You can switch from Ipad to a computer, to phone in seconds. Speechifying everything from emails to books to articles.

3.  Hours Saved — There’s something about creating products that can save you hours of time. It’s as if they make me want to use them more. This was the case the Speechify. It helped me save time, and made me feel more productive. What more could I want?

4. Less is more — A username and a password and you’re good to go. The app was stupidly simple to figure out.

 

Overall, Speechify kills it — they make it easy to maintain good reading habits by providing me with all that I need, and none of what I don’t. The cost/benefit ratio of their pro version is off the charts, and a subscription plan means I don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on audiobooks for assigned readings.

Most importantly, Speechify has made reading an enjoyable process again.

 

For a more detailed and up to date, tutorial of Speechify features see our blog post: The Definitive Guide to Reading Faster With Text to Speech in 2018

5 Inspirational Books to Read in 2018

By | education, productivity, reading, students | No Comments
Also, read them all faster with Speechify!

1. ‘When to Jump’ by Mike Lewis (Jan. 9)

At age 24 Mike Lewis had a prestigious finance job and an even more prestigious income. He was living (more than) a little comfort.

But, life is short. And unlike his colleagues, Lewis wanted to play squash professionally. So, what do you do when your job pays your rent but doesn’t let you follow your dream?

In his new book, Mike Lewis provides four practical steps to help you take the plunge towards your dreams all whilst incorporating the more realistic aspects of risk-taking. He advises his readers to:

-Listen to the little voice

-Make a plan

-Let yourself be lucky

-Don’t look back

Including a forward by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, stories from other “jumpers” like the author of The Big Short, Arianna Huffington, and others: When to Jump is an inspirational, fast, and easy read.

2. ‘We the Corporations’ by Adam Winkler (Feb. 27)

How did corporations come to have rights under the Constitution?

Professor Winkler makes one thing clear, it definitely was not easy.

Looking to undo the injustice of Citizens United, We the Corporations analyzes the slow, steady, 200 year long fight to allow corporations become ‘people’ entitled to constitutional rights and used those rights to impede efforts to regulate them in the interests of real people — until, that is, you try to sue them.

5 Inspirational Books to Read in 2018

Look out for this groundbreaking book expected in the coming month.

3. Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Out-hustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life by Daymond John and Daniel Paisner (Jan 23).

The star from ABC’s Shark Tank offers his personal story and how his grit, killer work ethic, and persistence fueled his success.

Daymond John started his career sewing hats, and working shifts at Red Lobster. Today, his brand FUBU has over $6 billion in sales.

For anyone who’s feeling a little down, or looking for a nudge: Daymond John’s new book bluntly states the importance of out-thinking, out-hustling, and out-performing everyone around you to make it big.

 

4. The Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Launch and Grow Your New Business by Harvard Business Review (Feb 13, 2018).

Perhaps one of the most anticipated Business books of 2018, the new and updated Harvard Business Review will teach you everything you need to know about starting the next big thing.

 

Taking a look at the potential challenges, from the entrepreneurial process to legal practices — The Harvard Business Review will give you the tools you need to get your practice up and going.

Lost and Founder: by Rand Fishkin (March 27, 2018)

When I say “tech start-up,” you think — young, brilliant, groundbreaking, college drop-out, defier of doubters, overcomer off odds, billionaire.

If only it were that simple.

Rand Fishkin, one of the world’s leading SEOs, shares the more realistic, sometimes difficult, and often amazing aspects of starting your own company from the ground up. Fishkin pulls back the curtain on tech startup mythology, exposing the ups and downs of startup life that most CEOs would rather keep secret. A must read.

 

What are you planning to read this year?