Top 5 iPad Tips & Tricks – Part 2
I shared with you three of my top five iPad tips and tricks. Here are the top two:
#2: Text to Speech
The iPad will read aloud any text in Notes, Safari, iBooks, Mail, or others apps in which you can select text. To turn this feature on, go to the Settings app, select General, and scroll down to Accessibility. Under the heading Vision, you'll find an option that says Speak Selection - turn it to On and slide the speaking rate all the way down to the turtle.
Now, whenever you select text, you'll see a new option, Speak, to hear the selected text read aloud. I have used this to help clients with aphasia who have difficulty reading their email or websites; it could also be used with clients with visual impairment, illiteracy, and other reading disorders. It's not the most natural speech, and it's still fairly fast even on the slowest setting; however, this feature is built-in and fairly easy to use. For more voice options and features, you can also copy and paste text into the Speak it! Text to Speech app ($1.99 on iOS).
#1: Speech to Text
Keyboard-based dictation was recently introduced on the new iPad (iPad 3) - a fantastic feature, but it takes a bit of work to turn it on. Go to the Settings App, select "General", and scroll down to touch "Keyboard"; in the middle of the screen, find "Dictation" and turn it "on".
Now when your keyboard comes up in any app, you'll see a little microphone icon next to the space bar (Internet connection via wifi or 3G required). Press the icon, wait for the beep, and start speaking. Touch it again to stop recording - the iPad will type what you said. It requires reasonably clear speech at a moderate rate, and while it does make mistakes, it's remarkably accurate. Try shorter spurts for higher accuracy, and don't forget to dictate your punctuation - period.
For clients who can speak but not write (aphasia, motor impairments, illiteracy, etc), dictation allows them to send emails, write notes, post to Facebook, and browse the web easily. I'm using it now with a stroke survivor who lost her hearing: she can talk, but her family has to write everything to her, so now they're learning to dictate to the iPad to save the time and hassle of writing down every word. If you have an iPad 1 or 2, you can download the free Dragon Dictation app for similar speech to text functionality; you'll have to copy the text to other apps. The best speech-to-text apps connect to an online database to improve their accuracy, but it makes this feature inaccessible when you're without a connection.
I'm sure there are apps that do both of these things for Android users. Can anyone share that with us?
Bonus Tip: Double-tap the black bar at the top of Safari, Twitter, Facebook, Messages, and other scrolling apps to immediately scroll all the way back to the top. You're welcome.