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Speaking of Apps

Speech Training Apps: A Head-to-Head Comparison & Giveaway

Published October 1, 2012 3:58 PM by Megan Sutton
Speech Trainer 3D by Smarty Ears and Speech Tutor by Pocket SLP both model articulation of English sounds as a tool for speech pathology. At first glance, they are nearly indistinguishable: both cost under $10, feature an animated head in profile and front views, and are made by leading SLP app developers. What's the difference? Here's a head-to-head (pardon the pun) comparison of the apps.


Speech Trainer 3D: $7.99 USD

Speech Tutor: $9.99 USD

Both apps are universal for iOS devices; not available on Android.


Speech Trainer 3D: 24 consonant sounds and 7 vowels (no diphthongs or rhotic vowels), presented in IPA format (good for professionals, difficult for laymen).

Speech Tutor: 20 consonant sounds with 2 versions of /r/ (bunched and retroflex). Missing /w, h, zh, y/ from the consonants and no vowels. Sounds are represented in conventional spelling.


Speech Trainer 3D: The lateral image is a sagittal cross-section of a head (like a plastic classroom model) with animated lips, teeth, tongue, velum, and larynx demonstrating the sound. The front view is a realistically animated young man's head, much like looking at a therapist giving a model.

Speech Tutor:  In profile, the model is a life-like animation of the nose, mouth, and neck with a translucent cheek, making the tongue, teeth, and palate visible. The tongue, lips, and jaw move to produce each sound, though there is no animation of the velum to show the difference between oral and nasal sounds, nor is there a larynx to show voiced vs. voiceless productions.  An animated puff of air illustrates the airflow on aspirated sounds. The front view consists of lips and a chin with translucent skin to see through to the teeth and tongue.


Speech Trainer 3D: Using this app in landscape orientation turns on the camera and creates a split-screen, allowing users to compare their production to the model - a unique and useful feature in this app as this therapy is often done with a mirror. Each sound has step-by-step instructions on how to produce it while highlighting each area of the anatomy. The instructions may be a bit complex for younger users and include movements that are difficult to consciously control (e.g. "the passage that leads to your nose must be closed").  The app also offers paired audio and text of each sound in a few sample words.


Speech Tutor: The app features a text-based overview of voice, place, and manner of articulation when you touch "Basics". Pressing "Description" brings up information about the phonetic symbol, articulation, age of emergence and mastery, and tips for eliciting each sound. There is a palate diagram for all but bilabial sounds, showing a transverse view of the palate and the location where the tongue touches it to create the sound.  A highlight of this app is the option to record the user's production and play it back along with the target - this is great for self-monitoring and feedback. There is also an option to select the speed of the production: slow, medium, or fast.


User Interface:

Speech Trainer 3D: The app starts with a short video introducing the purpose of the app, which can be skipped by touching it, and leads you to a screen to select consonants or vowels.  A sliding bar at the top shows all the phonemes; a faint blue line above the phonetic symbol indicates which sound is selected. In general, the app is easy to navigate with all options visible on the screen.

Speech Tutor: Navigating this app can be challenging; the home screen is dominated by ads and links and only the icons on the bottom row will get you into the app. The function of the icons is not immediately obvious: an arrow brings up the palate diagram, and the phoneme menu is found by touching the stacked drawers. A plus is that the target sound is printed on the screen to remind you which animation is loaded.

Bottom Line:

Both apps are quite good with unique features and flaws. Speech Trainer 3D has more sounds and an innovative way of viewing the user next to the model.  Speech Tutor has a large amount of text-based information and a more realistic visual model, but it's missing sounds. Speech Trainer 3D offers an audio demonstration of production and words containing the sound, while Speech Tutor allows the user to record his own production and play it back. Both apps work well for children and adults engaging in articulation, apraxia, or accent therapy.

Which app do you prefer? I have a free copy of Speech Trainer 3D to give away to someone who comments on this post. Winner will be selected at random next week.


posted by Megan Sutton


Appreciate the comparisons Megan.  I specifically searched you out to read your reviews of apps.  Thanks so much!

vicki, SLP working in Abi - SLP, Learning Services Corp February 7, 2016 11:03 AM
Lexington KY

Great detailed explanations and comparisons.  I am a novice with apps (have never used one before!) and i hope to do so soon. Thank you for your help!

Lee Ann, SLP November 19, 2014 2:50 PM

Speaking of Apps : Speech Training Apps: A Head-to-Head Comparison & Giveaway

October 6, 2014 8:31 AM

Most articulation apps are designed to appeal to children, so it can be difficult to find one with appropriate

August 6, 2013 8:36 AM

Congratulations Cheryl! You've won! Thanks to everyone who commented. I hope the developers make use of your feedback to improve both of these useful apps!

Megan Sutton October 9, 2012 4:19 PM

Both of these apps would be very beneficial to the students I work with.  

Marilyn, SLP October 9, 2012 1:53 PM
Columbia IL

i am an slp  but working in AT right now - need this from ACC standpoint and speech.  I work with all grade levels, district wide and could use this today! hope i win!

julia walker, assistive technology - AT Facilitator, all grade levels October 9, 2012 11:44 AM
bossier city LA much alike, but the differences seem like important ones.  I would really like to contrast the auditory model with the client's productions from the Tutor, but would like to give the visual feedback of side-to-side views from the 3D.

Nancy Morse, pediatrics - SLP, School October 8, 2012 2:44 PM
Qulin MO

I think each app serves a different purpose for different learners of articulation. The speech trainer 3-D looks more coachable for children with lower self-awareness and cognitive level. The speech tutor looks more appropriate for children with self-awareness and meta-cognitive skills.

Angel, School - SLP October 5, 2012 11:19 PM

I am leaning toward the Speech Trainer 3D.  I like that it provides more sounds and the side-by-side view.  Although, I like that the Speech Tutor provides the translucent view of the articulators.  

Heidi, Early Ed - SLP, School October 5, 2012 5:09 PM
Burlington VT

I would love to have this app. Thank you for outlining some of the similarities and differences of Speech Trainer 3D vs Speech Tutor.  I am always excited to find great apps for my special kiddos.

Fran, special education - speech pathologist October 5, 2012 3:55 PM
south FL

I think I would like the Speech Trainer 3D app because it appears to have more applications to therapy. I just received an iPAD through a grant I wrote so I would love to have this app to use with my speech students!

Roberta Steinhorn, Speech Language - Ms., School October 5, 2012 9:16 AM
Beverly MA

I'd love to have this app!

Kristen, SLP October 5, 2012 8:19 AM
Greensboro NC

I recently invested in an IPAD and am in the initial stages of finding apps to work with my students.  I am working with a student who is deaf and was also looking to find something that would provide a visual representation of sounds. Thanks so much for providing such a thorough description of these APPs.  I do have to say, the split screen sounds like fabulous feedback for this girl.  I will be looking for the Speech Trainer 3D!!

Ann, , SLP School October 5, 2012 7:56 AM
stafford VA

I like the idea of the split screen as well.  I received an IPAD yesterday and will be buying the Speech Trainer 3D.  Thanks for helping me comparison shop.  

Hope October 4, 2012 11:56 PM
Myrtle Beach SC

I'LL take any help I can in getting that /r/ corrected. Even if it only helps one student I consider it a winner!

marilyn ziedenweber, education - slp, school October 4, 2012 8:16 PM
montvale NJ

I like the idea of Trainer better so that a patient can use side-by-side comparison with a model: just like I do in therapy in the mirror. I'm interested in this one for my adult patients (it seems they are both more adult-directed) but wish they included vowels too!

Louise Chamberlin October 4, 2012 8:04 PM

I appreciated reading your review.  I have BOTH of these apps, and find that I have used them together to educate my students, teachers and parents.  I found that when doing an RtI model with a first grade class targeting phonemic awareness, the students responded better to the Speech tutor.  They needed the voiced/voiceless input.  I use the 3D app for therapy more.  The frontal view is ok, but students get turned off by the nostrils.  The side view is great.  The difference in rf and bunch /r/ is very minimal.  The tongue tip tilts slightly.  I must point it out for the students to see the difference.  The recording option  is great.

Pam Curtis, grades 1-5 - Speech/Lang Pathologist, public school October 4, 2012 6:25 PM
Alpine CA

Speech Trainer 3d looks like it would work better for my students. In particular, Iam looking for additional ways to encourage correct sound production from my students with hearing impairment, and the split screenis a nice visual for them.

Kimberly, , SLP Forest Hills Special Education Cooperative October 4, 2012 4:47 PM
Ellettsville IN

Thanks so much for this information.  I have not purchased an app like this yet to help with my articulation students, so this information was  very helpful.  Thanks again.

Stacey , SLP October 4, 2012 4:26 PM
Dallas GA

Thanks for the comparison. I would go with the speech trainer with the speech tutor as I really like the ability to record and play back with the target sound.

Cheryl Leonard Leonard, Speech - SLP, school October 4, 2012 4:18 PM
Charleston SC

I agree with Linda, , SLP Elementary School  from Tonawanda NY. I think the split screen is a key element for success esp. for young children; appreciate the detailed comparison!

M. L., SLP - Primary Pub. school October 4, 2012 3:57 PM
Va. Beach VA

This would be a  perfect tool to add to my collection!

Thanks for the comparisons.

Shelli Sutherland, Speech Pathology/A.T. - Speech-Lang. Pathologist, Jonathan Elem. School October 4, 2012 3:22 PM
Chaska MN

I really like the idea of the split scree, but also like the idea of being able to choose between the bunched and retroflex /r//

Kristin, SLP October 4, 2012 3:09 PM
West Jordan UT

The features comparison of the two apps is very helpful when having to make decisions about what to purchase that best accommodates a particular case load. I like the idea of the split screen on Speech Trainer 3D to assist practice and give immediate visual feedback since we do a lot of mirror work anyhow. The inclusion of vowels in the sound mix will prove to be helpful as well.

Cheryl, Speech/Language Impairement - Speech/Language Pathologist, Leesburg Elementary School October 4, 2012 3:00 PM
Leesburg FL

I am about to get an iPad so I am trying to learn about the different apps.  It is very helpful to learn about the similarities/differnces.  It would be perfect for my students.  

Marybeth, SLP October 4, 2012 2:55 PM

I haven't had the opportunity to use either. This was a great breakdown of both apps!

stacey, SLP - Clinician, Private October 4, 2012 2:08 PM
wrentham MA

I agree with previous comments. My favorite feature has got to be the split screen, where students can view their production compared to the model.

Sarah, SLP October 4, 2012 2:02 PM

Most of my students respond well to viusal supports so I think that the Speech Trainer 3D would be awesome!  I do like the Speech Tutor for students to be able to learn self monitoring and self correcting skills.  They both sound like winners to me and I would love the opportunity to try one!


Karen, School Based SLP October 4, 2012 1:55 PM

I find that I often work on vowels with children. My clients include  those with hearing loss, so the vowels and good visualizations are really important. The app sounds like an excellent match for these children.

Marie Novak October 4, 2012 1:26 PM

I would LOVE to have the Speech Trainer 3D app to use with artic therapy with my students!  I think it would be AWESOME for them to be able to actually see the correct way sounds should be produced.

Heather, School - SLP October 4, 2012 1:21 PM
Leakesville MS

Like the comparison. Speech Trainer 3D sounds a little better for my uses.

Brooke, Speech - Speech Language Specialist, school October 4, 2012 12:42 PM
Paramus NJ

I have used speech tutor successfully with adult clients but do miss not having vowel sounds. Since both are relatively inexpensive apps, they are both valuable for the SLP's toolchest.

Julie October 4, 2012 12:11 PM

I like the idea of having vowels.  I have several kids at this point who need to work on vowels.  

Beth Garrett October 4, 2012 11:44 AM

Thank you for this non-biased comparison of these two apps.  Also, thanks for including the comment about the size difference. With so many apps available, the size of an app really does play a part in which app to choose. That being said, I think I would still choose Speech Trainer for the amount of sounds it has, cheaper price and the animated features of the velum and larynx. Great job Megan!

Laura October 4, 2012 11:44 AM

I would love to use the Speech Trainer in my private practice for students and parents to see before purchase.  The immediate visual feedback is a great feature; and a combination of both would be a plus.

JoAnn October 4, 2012 11:09 AM

I'm always looking for the best apps and ways to incorporate technology into my otherwise traditional therapy sessions. I have quite a range of sounds that I'm working on with my articulation kids this year and both of these apps look wonderful. I would love to have either! Thanks for sharing!

Amanda Hill, Education - Speech Pathologist, Elementary School in NC October 4, 2012 10:01 AM
West End NC

I would love to have the Speech Trainer 3D!  Looks like a great tool.  Thanks for the non-biased comparison that really gives a good picture of both apps.

Kristi, , Speech Pathologist School October 4, 2012 9:55 AM
Brooklyn Park MN

I think for my students I would prefer the Speech Trainer 3D.  The fact that it also includes vowels is a real plus for my students.

Debra, , SLP Shrine School October 4, 2012 9:36 AM
Memphis TN

I love that Speech Trainer 3D includes vowels- this is definitely a need for some of my students. The mirror feature is a huge plus too- I think this would complement the VAST apps I have as well!

Amy , Speech Pathology - SLPA, PreK-5th school October 4, 2012 3:04 AM
San Diego CA

They both look great.  I'd like Speech Trainer as I think it might be a little better for younger kids.

Valerie October 3, 2012 4:00 PM

I have Speech Tutor, but it sounds like Speech Tutor may fit my needs better.  I really wish Speech Tutor had the retroflex /r/, because that is a very difficult posture to describe to a client.  And I wish it had vowels, for my accent clients.

Ann Kulichik, akspeech LLC October 3, 2012 11:11 AM
Tewksbury MA

Speech Trainer looks great for students who have a hard time understanding directions regarding articulation placement and how what they are doing differs.

Christina October 2, 2012 6:44 PM

Thanks so much for your review of the 2 apps - each with its own merit!

Julie, SLP October 2, 2012 5:11 PM

Very neat comparison.  The Speech Trainer 3D split screen option seems useful and beneficial to be able to directly compare actual model to the example.  The Speech Trainer also seems beneficial as it includes more sounds and vowels, plus it's cheaper.

Stephanie Perillo October 2, 2012 4:13 PM

One more point of comparison: Size. The edge goes to Speech Tutor with under 35 mb download size compared to Speech Trainer's hefty 96 mb. As someone still using a 16 gb iPad, this matters to me. If Speech Tutor had a few more sounds and a bit better navigation, I would use it the most, but as some of you have said - you need both at this point to get the perfect demonstration tool. Thanks for your comments!

Megan Sutton October 2, 2012 4:10 PM

These both look like potentially very useful apps, but it seems like the Smarty Ears version might have the edge with a few more sounds available, and a few extra articulators animated (velum, larynx). Plus, based on the screen shots above, I feel like the transverse view in the Speech Tutor would be confusing for my younger patients.

Kim , SLP October 2, 2012 3:56 PM
Houston TX

I think the Speech Trainer 3D sounds much more user-friendly.  I also like the inventory as well as the split-screen display/comparison, and the price is great.  I'd love to try it!

Lauren, SLP October 2, 2012 12:19 PM
Houston TX

Love the Speech Trainer 3D! I use it all the time to show my clients what happens on the "inside" and what it looks like on the "outside". Can't wait to try the Tutor!

Cara October 2, 2012 11:26 AM

Great review! I really like Speech Trainer!!!

Trish October 2, 2012 10:55 AM

This looks like it would be a perfect tool to use with some of my students.  

Kathleen Tissot, , SLP High School October 2, 2012 9:59 AM

These look by interesting. Would love to compare them myself. Thanks for the info

Suzanne Berhow, SLP - SLP, RISD October 2, 2012 7:04 AM
Refugio TX

Very interesting and informative! I like the idea of the split screen on Speech Trainer to help practice and give immediate visual feedback. I appreciate the inclusion of vowels in the sound mix also.  It is amazing to me what apps can do- great tool to use!

Linda, , SLP Elementary School October 2, 2012 6:00 AM
Tonawanda NY

Nice Comaprison. Seems a combination of both would be more useful. Any idea if the app are going to be avaialable on Android in near future?

Ravi, Audiology & Speech Pathology - Garg Speech & Hearing Clinic October 2, 2012 5:33 AM
Delhi NCR, India IT

I don't have either. Your comparison has been great. From what you've mentioned it sounds like I need to mix them together to create the perfect tool.

Suzanne, , SLP Self Employed October 2, 2012 1:24 AM
Nadi - Fiji actually HI

Great job on the comparison. This was really cool to see the two apps side by side. I think Speech Trainer 3D is what I would choose because its cheaper with more sounds and the fact that I have a few Smarty Ears apps which are pretty good. Plus, it sounds user friendly.

Mark , SLP October 2, 2012 1:01 AM

I currently have speech tutor and use it. It would be nice to have speech trainer and the ability to show in words. It also looks user friendly.

Susan Miller, , SLP School October 1, 2012 8:43 PM
Palacios TX

I recently purchased Speech Tutor and have used it a few times.  From your head-to-head :) description, Speech Trainer may be slightly more user friendly for younger kids (more my population) - especially with the split-screen feature.

Cassandra, SLP October 1, 2012 8:02 PM
Seattle WA

I like speech trainer - particularly the ability to split-screen and use the camera to compare with the model.

Rita October 1, 2012 7:35 PM

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About this Blog

    Speaking of Apps
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Rehabilitation
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