Let Your iPhone Robotically Read You a Bedtime Story With vBookz

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vBookz, the somewhat useful text-to-speech iPad app we've covered before, is now iPhone-ready. It doesn't appear that many of our quibbles with the app have been rectified since we examined vBookz's previous iteration, but the robotic narrator is now pocketable.

As Kyle pointed out in June, vBookz is essentially a copy of Apple's own iBooks, only crammed with public domain classics (via Project Gutenberg) instead of bestsellers. The interface is still a mixed bag. It's still very pretty, but how does it read? It's hard to turn pages (kind of a drawback for a reader app!) and the area to download new literary freebies is difficult to reach on your first try. But really, the only reason you'll be paying $1.99 (or not) is the text-to-speech function, as public domain titles are easily available within the superiorly designed iBooks app.

So how does she sound (or he, if you want a 50 mb download for male narration)? Well, still like a robot. Potential purchasers should't grab vBookz expecting the dulcet voices of an actual audiobook. For a robot, it sounds okay. Can you really qualify a robot voice? It doesn't creep you out—though it does stutter, and stumble on things like the period in 'Mrs.', leading to an awkward pause in the reading. But ultimately, I think it's serviceable—and considering that after the initial $1.99 you'll have access to an enormous trove of literary material, those looking for a way to pass time on a train or fall asleep to a good book might be able to get over the cyborg librarian experience.


But perhaps most of all, an iPhone version of vBookz could be a life-changer for the visually impaired—more books than you'll ever be able to read in a lifetime, in your pocket, now able to be appreciated (albeit, imperfectly).