Text to Speech Goes Social with The Social Radio

By Matt Bramowicz on January 13th, 2012

The new startup company, The Social Radio, brings the functionality of text to speech to Twitter, allowing you to listen to your twitter feed as if it was a radio broadcast.  Right now, The Social Radio is available only as a free Android app, with iOS and Blackberry apps in the works.

The app can be used when you’re at work, jogging, or what I think is most important, while driving in your car.  Since the social networking world has taken over our interests and attention, it’s become increasingly dangerous for smart phones in the car for people who can’t bear to miss out on anything happening online.  With this app, you can listen to your Twitter updates without having to take your eyes off the road.

Currently the website is in private Beta, so you must go to their website and enter your email to be invited to use their service.  All you need to do is download it and sign in with your Twitter account. The Social Radio will start reading your tweets aloud, with a few seconds delay compared to your timeline. In between tweets, you can also listen to music from your own library. If you’re in the US, you can also stream tracks from Google Music.

Both the app and the web version let you choose to listen to your full Twitter timeline or focus on a specific list, topic or hashtag.  The interesting part of this process though, is realizing how much we rely on sight over specific categorization in surfing the web – while your eyes are more adept at taking in what your mind wishes to see at a given point of time, trying to find the same information in audio form can present a serious challenge. Thus, if you follow many accounts, your timeline can sound a bit schizophrenic.  Also, a lot of people use their Twitter accounts as more of RSS feeds, so you may end up listening to a lot of nonsense and links.

While at the moment, The Social Radio only works with the user’s Twitter account, it wouldn’t be far fetched to think that someday soon there might be a version that works with a user’s facebook wall as well. This might lend itself to more interesting listening, as people’s wall posts tend to be more engaging, as they are not limited to 144 characters and aren’t used as RSS feeds (usually).

This application, as well as text to speech in general, are both still new.  We only have to wait to see just how both will impact how we engage in our social network experience in the future.  The one good thing about utilizing text to speech software on social sites are the numerous translation apps being developed alongside.  With the integration of both applications, soon we might get to the stage where posts in a foreign language aren’t just translated on screen, but actually spoken to us in our native language.

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