One of the most treasured apps to run on an iPhone or iPad for a Blind or Partially Sighted person is the marvellous Voice Dream Reader application. The recent update to the app has now included a valuable Loader function.
Voice Dream Reader, for the uninitiated, will convert into a talking book any document such as ePub, PDf, Word and a multitude of other text formats. It uses all the high quality inbuilt human sounding voices that Apple now supply, plus you can cheaply purchase high quality alternative voices in the unlikely event the free offerings are not sufficient for your needs. Although not specifically designed for Blind or Partially Sighted people the app developer has been at pains to ensure that the app is completely accessible to a blind person using Appleís inbuilt Voiceover Screen Reader. The developer is sensitive to a range of reading needs. For example he has included a highlight feature which will highlight each word of a book visually on screen as the text is read aloud. This can help people with other reading difficulties, including those with dyslexia.
All the features you would expect in a book player are here, including the ability to place bookmarks, automatically resume from last playback, variable speed of narration, and comprehensive book navigation features.
What this means is that even sighted people may find this app useful. You can listen to your copy of Pride and Prejudice whilst you are doing the housework or washing up, or even whilst driving to work.
The app has developed in power over the years and now offers an all in one reading solution, including the ability to listen to actual recorded audio books as well as its original conversion of text into audio. In theory you could even use the app now as a music Player.
There are really only 2 limitations to using the app, neither of which are the developers fault. . The first is you cannot read purchased iBooks or Kindle Books as neither Apple nor Amazon will allow other apps access to their copy protected material. Despite this there are thousands of alternative accessible non copy protected book options out there so the app remains useful.
The second problem is that in previous years Apple have made transferring material onto their portable devices like iPads and iPhones cumbersome, especially for those of us who have had to struggle with the arcane areas of iTunes and File Transfer. The developer has tried to help by extending options to copy material off the web, use DropBox and import through Mail Attachments.
Now, however, Apple has provided new iCloud features which make all this much easier. Voice Dream has quickly seized this opportunity to revolutionise the experience of importing books.
Welcome to the new brilliant Loader facility in Voice Dream. To use this feature you either need to have iCloud for Windows installed or a Mac with iCloud Drive setup. You should also make sure you have the latest update to Voice Dream.
On a Windows PC, if you have not already done so, you will need to install iCloud Manager for Windows. You can download this from
ON A Mac things should work by default but you can check by going to system preferences and making Shure that iCloud Drive is turned on.
Back on the PC; accept the invitation to create a free iCloud Drive. You can upgrade to a paid for bigger file storage later if you wish, but the free space supplied should be fine for our purposes.
Once iCloud Drive is setup life becomes easy.
On the Mac just press command shift Drive to reveal iCloud Drive in Finder.
On Windows you will find iCloud Drive under your name in your normal user folder on your C Drive. You may also find a Shortcut to your iCloud Drive on your Desktop.
Finally you need to make a onetime change in Voice Dream Reader settings on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. Go into settings and check the box which says iCloud Sync.
Now if you want to add content from either your PC or Mac into Voice Dream just go to your iCloud Drive, find the Reader folder, and inside that you will
Find the Loader folder. I have set up a shortcut to this on my Desktop.
Into this Loader folder just copy any documents, eBooks or audio books that you want to read in Voice Dream.
You can put as many files in there as you like, in theory up to the capacity of your device.
Now open Voice Dream Reader on your phone or iPad and after a short while you will find your eBooks or Audio Books loaded ready for reading in your library. This is all automatic. You do not have to manually sync or restart Voice Dream. I have just copied an Audio book into the Loader Folder, went to my iPhone, where Voice Dream was already running, and after a minute my book was automatically shown in my library with the tag new attached.
This is how all Apple Programs should work and should sound the death knell for iTunes type data transfer. It is a bit like using the automatically add to iTunes folder for your music transfers.
The only note of caution is that, like the automatically add to iTunes folder, no files remain in the Loader Folder after an import. This means if you want to preserve a copy of your material on your Mac or PC you should copy files into the folder rather than move material there.
This feature does however mean that you can track the progress of your files from your PC or Mac. As soon as the folder is empty you know that files have been imported into Voice Dream.
Well done to both Apple for making this possible and Voice Dream for taking advantage.