Woo-hoo! Amazon confirms for me that the Fire will have built-in text-to-speech

Woo-hoo! Amazon confirms for me that the Fire will have built-in text-to-speech

I just got off the phone with Kindle Customer Service.

I had called them because the personal documents cloud sync to the Kindle that I wrote about wasn’t working right for me.

They couldn’t help with that one, unfortunately. Apparently, it’s not working with our Kindle 3s (now called Kindle Keyboards)…and the rep didn’t know when or if it might. The help information says it does work…I made the mistake of saying it was on the product page for the Kindle Keyboard, and it isn’t, but on the Help Page it says:

“You can download archived personal documents from your Kindle library on Kindle Keyboard, Kindle and Kindle Touch. Whispersync of notes, highlights, bookmarks along with last page read is available is available on your archived personal documents that have been converted into Kindle format.”

Kindle help page

That’s a bit disappointing, but the good news I got next more than made up for it.

I asked if the Kindle Fire was going to have “built-in” text-to-speech. As regular readers know, that’s a big issue for me…not just for my own use, but for people with print disabilities.

They said yes!

That’s great! One of the interesting things is that I probably do most (or much, at any rate) of my reading through text-to-speech in the car. One thing that means is that the backlit screen won’t matter as much to me…I’m still expecting to carry my Kindle and my Fire, but this is nice to know. I realize I’ll probably need to charge my Fire in the car sometimes (if I’m using it for text-to-speech during commutes), but I’m already set for that (I have an inverter…the wall plug will go into it). I have a car charger for my K3, but I don’t think I’d try it on the Fire right off.

Anyway, good news!

I also realize that the rep might not be right…but this sounded pretty unequivocal.

This post by Bufo Calvin appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

8 Responses to “Woo-hoo! Amazon confirms for me that the Fire will have built-in text-to-speech”

  1. Al Says:

    My display of the “I Love My Kindle” was truncated on the right. When I brought it into this page for commenting, it was not. Strange.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Al!

      Were you on a computer at the time? If you don’t mind letting me know, which browser were you using?

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    Given the contradictory reports about whether 3G has been crippled on Touch or not, I would not make much of one report about TTS on Fire. But TTS matters more to me. On Android there are several reading apps that do great TTS and so my expectation is higher that Amazon will clear that bar. It’s just a great option to have.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Even Vocalizer from Nuance (which is what Amazon licensed for the Kindle 3…er, Kindle Keyboard) has been in an Android accessibility app, I believe. We’ll see what happens, though.

  3. Paul Hulett Says:

    Kindles can charge with a bit less hassle than an inverter if you use a usb cord and a converter that plugs in just like your inverter. Here are a couple of links to such bits that I’ve bought from amazon:
    Cord: http://amzn.com/B003ES5ZSW
    Plug: http://amzn.com/B00470C35E

    Hope you’re right about the TTS!

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Paul!

      Thanks! I do have a car charger I use for my Kindle…and it’s a cheap one. 🙂

      GTMAX White Rapid Car Charger with Ic Chip for Amazon Kindle 2 and Kindle Dx Wireless Reading Device

      I’ve used it for a couple of years…doesn’t seem to ever top off my Kindle (either 2 or 3, the latter now called a Kindle Keyboard), but it does keep it charged while I listen to text-to-speech.

      It’s under $5…eligible for Super Saving Shipping, but even without that, it’s under $10 with shipping in the USA.

      eThe inverter is nice, because it doesn’t much matter what I have to charge…and mine has two outlets.

      I hope what I was told is right about the TTS (text-to-speech) as well. 🙂 I’ve heard that people were heard the opposite. However, Vocalizer (the software used on the Kindle 3) has been in an Android app, so I think it’s possible for them to build it into an Android run device (while I would help it would be onboard, and not an app).

      Edited to add: I should mention, the inverter is really mot much more of a hassle than the car charger, except for being bigger. You plug it into the 12v, plug the other devices into the outlet (they look just like your wall outlets). Yes, that means you need to have their plugs with you, and that’s more of a hassle. 🙂

  4. superfly1975 Says:

    the kindle fire does not have text to speech feature as far as I know. And I am not sure why amazon would drop the feature off.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, superfly1975!

      The Kindle Fire does have text-to-speech (TTS), but not the same TTS as Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, or Kindle DX.

      The Fire uses the Pico TTS engine. It’s nowhere near as sophisticated as Vocalizer (the TTS that Amazon licenses from Nuance for the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch). You need to use an app to access it (I use Quick Office Pro), it doesn’t work with Kindle store books with DRM (Digital Rights Management…that’s the vast majority of them, and I haven’t tested it on one without), and, at least with the apps I’ve tried, it doesn’t remember where you were in the book. I’ve only found it effective on short stories, articles, and work documents.

      As to why: Amazon clearly considered getting under $200 important. Amazon didn’t develop TTS: it paid Nuance (the company that makes DragonNaturally Speaking) for it. I think that’s one of the places they cut.

      Vocalizer has been used in Android apps (which is what work on the Kindle Fire), and my guess is that it will become available to us (although we might have to pay for it).

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