Lela Sullivan of Oklahoma City won the Speech Trans app for the iPad!
Thanks to everyone who entered!
From the Get App-y archives:
Originally published in The Oklahoman June 14, 2011
Get App-y: Speak now with another language
Going abroad this summer? Want to communicate with someone in another language? Order in Italian at an Italian restaurant?
Naturally, your smart phones and tablets are here to help break down communication barriers with mobile applications that allow you speak into the device and have your words translated into another language.
SpeechTrans, with voice recognition powered by Nuance, has several apps for various iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, ranging from free to $27.99. Google Translate is available free for both Android and iOS.
Speech recognition and translation software while not perfect has gotten much better since the last time I played around with it years ago.
John Frei, SpeechTrans’ co-founder and chief executive, agreed, saying that his app can reach 95 percent accuracy thanks to its partnership with Nuance, a leader in speech recognition. Nuance is behind the popular verbal texting app called Dragon Dictation.
Frei, 36, said the idea for his app stemmed from moving between Switzerland and the United States several times as a child, since his dad was Swiss. He wished he had a way to help him pick up the languages faster.
Three years ago, in an “a-ha moment,” he started using Internet tools to piece together speech-to-speech translation.
“I knew I was onto something. It was very exciting,” he said.
Future updates include developing SpeechTrans for Android systems, and Frei foresees a time when the camera can recognize sign language and turn it into an audio recording.
To use SpeechTrans, choose the language you’re speaking and the one for the translation. Press “record” and start speaking. When you finish, the app will translate and play your words in the other language.
For the written word, check out WordLens from QuestVisual, which uses your camera to translate on screen. A demonstration is free, but each translation (English to Spanish or Spanish to English) costs $9.99 as an in- app purchase.
~ By Lillie-Beth Brinkman (email@example.com).
YOUR TURN TO WIN
To win your own copy of SpeechTrans for the iPad, enter by emailing me with your name and contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below, and I’ll have a drawing Friday to pick the winner. Like I said in the column, this amazing app can have many uses. Put “SpeechTrans” in the subject line of your email, and let me know how you’d use it or tell me your favorite apps, and you’ll be entered. Check out the regular Get App-y column on most Tuesdays!
If you’re lucky enough to be one of the first 100,000 people to download iMapWeather Radio to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad on Thursday, May 19, then you’ll get the $9.99 mobile application and its severe weather warnings free.
And even if you’re not, this app from Weather Decision Technologies, Inc., in Norman, Oklahoma, has a lot of features that might help you when weather gets bad.
According to a news release, the app is a highly advanced weather radio right on a mobile device, providing information on life-threatening weather – such as the recent tornadoes and floods in the United States – with precise location-based text and voice alerts. The app “wakes up” the iPhone or other mobile device and provides an early voice warning to help individuals and families seek safety – even in the middle of the night, or when the power goes out.
“We believe in weather safety and good preparation so much that we are making the iMapWeather Radio free for a day to the first 100,000 people who download it,” said Mike Eilts, President and CEO of WDT in the release. “This app is a vital tool to help families prepare for the dangerous storm season upon us.”
Here are some of iMapWeather Radio’s features:
* Users get a voice and text alert if their device and saved locations on it fall inside a weather watch or warning.
* Users automatically receive an alert if they move into an area under a watch or warning.
* Add more locations so you know whether your family and friends are safe.
* The device is designed to conserve your battery life even using GPS>
* Live video is available in certain locations.
Also, while we’re talking about weather, I have to plug NewsOK’s WeatherWatch app, which has both free and $3.99 versions available. You’ll get access to blogs, severe weather headlines, radar, forecasts and more.
What is your favorite weather app? E-mail me and let me know.
~ Lillie-Beth (email@example.com)
I received a press release the other day with some good tips about keeping your mobile devices in top shape, especially if you’re going to want to resell it to purchase the next latest greatest thing to hit the market. The release noted that according to one company that purchases used electronics from consumers, Gazelle, the iPhone 4 can be sold for as much as 60 percent of its original value and the Droid X can be sold for as much as 42 percent. That’s all assuming your gear is in good condition.
On a side note, Gazelle.com has an entire list of gadgets and how much they’re worth, depending on conditions. If you don’t see yours listed there, they’ll give you a quote. For example, I learned recently from them that my pre-digital-era camera lens is not worth much in today’s market.
Here are five tips from Kirk Feller of BodyGuardz (which recently changed its name from NLU Products), maker of device protection products for Apple, BlackBerry, HTC products and more to help you keep your devices in pristine condition so you can resell your used electronics for top dollar.
1. Avoid carrying your gadget and keys in the same pocket. This will prevent scratching the large screen when you inevitably squeeze through a tight spot and rub the two together.
2. Safely clean your device. Over time it will collect dirt, grime and makeup. Dab some isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab and gently clean between the keys to avoid problems from clogged components. Here’s a hint: Hold the device upside down to prevent liquid from seeping through the cracks.
3. If you use a water bottle, make sure it’s leak-free before throwing it in your purse with your electronic devices.
4. Cover your mobile device with a full-body, scratch-free film. Films are easy to apply, inexpensive and can safeguard your device from scratches and nicks.
5. If you’re ready to upgrade or switch devices, remember to erase all data before recycling or selling your old one. Addresses, passwords and browsing history will remain in the device’s hardware even after deleting contact information. Be sure to check the phone’s manual to completely reset the memory or visit your carrier to have the phone swiped in store.
~ Lillie-Beth (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families and an international coalition of social networks and Internet safety advocates want to hear your story about what it means to use the Internet safely and responsibly.
The contest, sponsored by the global technology security company Trend Micro, asks anyone 13 and older, including teachers with their classrooms, to create and submit a video educating their peers about the risks on the Internet and how best to stay safe when engaging in online activities. These activities include texting, instant messaging and using social networking sites. Deadline is April 5.
Videos must address one of three issues: being a good citizen online, using a mobile phone wisely or maintaining your privacy online. One winner will win the $10,000 grand prize, although others will be awarded to schools and individuals.
For information about the contest and submitting a video, go to http://whatsyourstory.trendmicro.com.
This week, the Internal Revenue Service unveiled its first smart-phone application. With the free app IRS2Go, available at the Apple App Store or on the Android Marketplace, taxpayers can check the status of their tax refund and obtain helpful tax information.
“This new smart phone app reflects our commitment to modernizing the agency and engaging taxpayers where they want when they want it,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a news release from the IRS. “As technology evolves and younger taxpayers get their information in new ways, we will keep innovating to make it easy for all taxpayers to access helpful information.”
The mobile app, among a handful in the federal government, offers a number of safe and secure ways to help taxpayers. With the first release of the IRS2Go app you can:
1) Get your federal refund status with a few basic pieces of information. First, taxpayers enter a Social Security number, which is masked and encrypted for security purposes. Next, taxpayers pick the filing status they used on their tax return. Finally, taxpayers enter the amount of the refund they expect from their 2010 tax return. For people who e-file, the refund function of the phone app will work within about 72 hours after taxpayers receive an e-mail acknowledgement saying the IRS received their tax return. The processing time is longer for those who file paper tax returns. About 70 percent of the 142 million individual tax returns were filed electronic last year.
2) Get tax updates. Phone app users enter their e-mail address to automatically get daily tax tips. Tax Tips are simple, straightforward tips and reminders to help with tax planning and preparation. Tax Tips are issued daily during the tax filing season and periodically during the rest of the year. The plain English updates cover topics such as free tax help, child tax credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, education credits and other topics.
3) Follow the IRS through the Twitter news feed @IRSnews. Learn about tax law changes and important IRS programs.
“This phone app is a first step for us,” Shulman said. “We will look for additional ways to expand and refine our use of smartphones and other new technologies to help meet the needs of taxpayers.”
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (email@example.com)
In researching the Barnes and Noble Nook e-reader over Christmas, I found out you can check out books from the library to that particular device (although not the Kindle). I didn’t know that the same file formats that allow electronic book borrowing to the Nook also can work on your smart phone.
Go online to www.metrolibrary.org for free eBook downloads from your phone. As the library system announced last month, the OverDrive Media Console app, used on many eReaders, is now available for iPhone, iPod touch and Android phones/tabloids. The app lets you download both EPUB eBooks and MP3 audioboos directly to your device.
“This has been one of our most requested services, and we’re so glad to be able to offer it,” said Kellie Delaney, manager of web development and support for Metropolitan Library System, in a news release. “Not only is it great to be able to read our library books on your phone, but you can download them easily whenever you are connected to a WiFi or cellular network.”
To get the app, new users can search for “OverDrive Media Console” in the Apple App Store and Android Market, while current users will be alerted to update the existing OverDrive app on their devices. MLS eBooks and audiobooks can be downloaded by going to www.metrolibrary.org and clicking on eMedia.
The eBook reading experience includes user-inspired features for bookmarking and adjusting brightness and font size. Additional features will be added as the apps evolve, including highlighting, annotation, in-app text-to-speech, and more.
Currently the iPhone app will work on iPad with iOS 4 and enables the full browse, check-out, download experience. However, an optimized version for iPad — with improved resolution and additional features — is coming soon, along with apps for BlackBerry and other mobile devices.
How do you like your e-reader? Did you get one for Christmas? Which is your favorite? E-mail me, or post a comment below.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I liked these tech tips for parents that I received by e-mail from SocialShield, a company that offers tools and social network monitoring for parents wanting to protect their children online, especially as they unwrap more Internet-enabled mobile devices this Christmas. While I am not familiar with this startup company, these tips are some good ones. As Social Shield says, “parents need to stay equally savvy, making sure their parenting goes digital.”
Here is SocialShield’s advice:
1. Encourage a positive online reputation: Oversharing, cyberbullying and other online hazards can seriously affect kids’ online reputations. The most direct precaution to take against these risks is to talk to your kids about how they use the Internet. Discuss their activity on social networking sites, and come up with strategies for using websites wisely.
2. Keep computer usage in shared family rooms: The best way to monitor your kids’ Internet use is to put the computer in living or family rooms. This also encourages them to share positive findings and activities online, such as festive videos that put everyone in the holiday spirit.
3. Discuss technology use: If your child has just received a new smartphone or iPad, now is the time to set ground rules or limitations on how often they use these devices. With more personal ways to access the Internet — and more time to spare during vacation – kids shouldn’t be spending all their time online. Also make sure that with their current free time they aren’t friending random people just out of boredom.
4. Make sure personal information isn’t shared online: Even if your child is excited about making plans with friends during their school break, remind them that the more information they put online, the more access other people (cyberstalkers, cyberbullies) have to them. They should avoid oversharing any information meant for only close friends or family.
5. Reinforce courtesy and politeness: Although you can’t control the behavior of everyone your kids interact with online, you can stress the importance of being polite to avoid bullying and minimize arguments. Remind your kids that it’s just as important to be considerate and compassionate on the Internet as it is in the real world.
6. Block or filter sites if necessary: Kids can be impulsive, and they might get restless after a few days away from school during their holiday break. With monitoring software and services, you can have a better idea of how they’re spending their time online.
7. Make strict rules about chat rooms and chat software: Unfortunately, chat rooms are havens for cyberbullies and online predators. And it’s not just your kids who are on a holiday vacation! Parents of young kids may want to disallow chat rooms altogether, or you can only allow your kids to chat with known and approved friends.
8. Monitor downloads: Free downloads that kids get really excited about – music, videos, games – can make your system vulnerable to viruses, spyware or attacks. Encourage your kids to ask permission before downloading anything onto the computer, or find holiday music or games that you can download and enjoy together.
9. Beware of intrusive apps on mobile devices: They may be free or low-cost alternative to buying expensive game consoles, but many applications and games on Apple and Android devices send out personal information…without you even knowing! Advise your kids to not enter any personal information on the device, no matter what kind of rewards a game promises to give.
How do you monitor your child’s Internet/mobile device behavior? I wrote about this last summer, but I still would like to hear from you either by e-mail or in the comments below. Enjoy your new gadgets this holiday!
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (email@example.com)
Watch out before you let your children play with apps on your iPhone. One mom learned that lesson the hard way when she let her 4-year-old son play “The Smurfs’ Village,” a Farmville-like mobile application in which Smurfs maintain farms and build villages.
According to an Associated Press story, “Kids go on expensive buying sprees in iPhone games,” Kelly Rummelhart of Gridley, Calif., was stunned when she found $66.88 in charges on her credit card from the game. She didn’t know you could buy game items with real money; her son is too young to know.
Andrew Butterworth, of Brooklin, Ontario, also learned this lesson after his son charged $140 in “Smurfberries,” according to the AP. A package of 1,000 pretend Smurfberries will set you back $59 in real money.
Late last year, Apple started allowing “in-app” purchases in for free apps. So, you can download and play “Smurfs’ Village” for free, and then make optional purchases to speed up your game play.
These extras don’t require a password to buy if you’ve recently entered your iTunes password for any reason, not just in the game.
The makers of “The Smurfs’ Village,” Capcom Entertainment Inc., now warn buyers of this fact before they add it to their device (see screenshot).
So consider yourself warned that you might get more than annoying ads when you download “free” apps. Extra features, while they make the game more fun to play, can cost you.