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Soccer Aloud 2.0 Coming Soon

Soccer Aloud is the app that lets you listen to football websites.

Version 2.0 is feature complete and waiting for Apple to review and accept the new version to the App Store.

We've made a lot of changes to the app since version 1.0 was released, but above all we've focused on the quality and fluency of the speech. That makes Soccer Aloud an awesome app for footy fans. With Soccer Aloud, you can take websites with great content like or and listen to them instead of reading them.

We've worked hard to keep it as simple as possible for users of the app, so this is an "iceberg release" with 90% of the work hidden below the surface. You will notice that you can read as well as listen to the articles you save, you'll surely notice the user interface changes that make the app more visually appealing and readable on iPad, but you probably won't notice the thousands of customizations that make it as easy as possible for you to listen to websites of your choice. We've broadened our recognition of teams and players from Europe and the US, and added depth to our understanding of the Premier League and lower leagues in the UK, including new player names for recent transfers.

We think that Soccer Aloud is a great way to keep up on all the football news and we hope that you'll agree. And there's no better time than now to tell your friends and followers about the app: Soccer Aloud is free in the store right now and Soccer Aloud 2.0 will continue to be free to all users.

Soccer Aloud Brings You the Women's World Cup

Soccer Aloud is the premier text-to-speech app for football fans. Keep up to date with the football news from your favourite websites using Soccer Aloud to speak the text to you.

Now it's easier than ever to find the news about the Women's World Cup that you're looking for. Start at our Women's World Cup 2015 page and you'll find links to all the World Cup games. The most recent football matches are at the top to make it easy for you to find the latest soccer news from the World Cup in Canada.

Women's World Cup 2015 coverage starts here!

Soccer Aloud 1.9.1 - Available Now and FREE for a Limited Time

We're pleased to announce the release of a new version of our iPhone app, Soccer Aloud. Version 1.9.1 is available in the App Store now.

Soccer Aloud is the premier text-to-speech app for football fans. Keep up to date with the football news from your favourite websites using Soccer Aloud to speak the text to you.

The latest version features a reading view so you can see the article currently being spoken or any other article in your Soccer Aloud timeline.

Swipe from left to right to see the text for the current article.

Swipe from right to left to see the text for the article under your finger.

Soccer Aloud as an iPhone Bookmarking App

Soccer Aloud was not designed for simply storing bookmarks to web pages that you're interested in, but it certainly works for that purpose. Use the Safari extension to save a page to your timeline and you won't just get a bookmark - a way of getting back to the page - you'll get the important text of the page saved on your device. You'll be able to listen to the web page whenever you want - even offline - and in the next version of Soccer Aloud (coming soon!), you'll be able to see that text too. To get back to the source of the content you saved on the originating web site takes a single tap. And you won't just get taken back to any page - you'll go directly to the canonical source of that page.

Soccer Aloud Listicles

I've found a new love for listicles - those snappy, short articles made up of lists. I've put together a couple for your reading pleasure:

Read these and you'll come away with some great suggestions for your summer vacation and ideas on how to make the most of your commuting time. Practical! All involving Soccer Aloud of course.

One of the best podcast apps for iOS isn't a podcast app

There are a ton of good podcast apps for iPhone: Downcast and Overcast are the ones I use and enjoy. There are many more podcast apps for Apple devices (including Castro, Instacast, Pocket Casts, and more). But my "favourite podcast app" is the app I created: Soccer Aloud.

Soccer Aloud is not a podcast app, but it does let you listen to great spoken content.

Podcatchers (as podcast apps are sometimes known) let you listen to a wealth of audio content. Soccer Aloud also lets you listen to a huge selection of football news, analysis, and opinion. But Soccer Aloud works in a very different way to podcast apps.

Podcast apps download and let you listen to podcasts — audio that has been recorded using microphones.

Soccer Aloud downloads and lets you listen to web pages — articles that have been written using text editors and word processors.

Both kinds of app allow you to listen to the downloaded content. Podcast apps let you listen to existing audio files, but Soccer Aloud lets you take written content produced for one sense (sight) and experience it with another (hearing). Soccer Aloud lets you listen to text. The end result is not unlike a podcast. You plug in your headphones, choose what you want to hear, and listen to the stuff that interests you.

But Soccer Aloud has some advantages over podcast apps.

First, Soccer Aloud gives you access to high quality content from writers and publications you already know, but in a new form. Whether you like the erudite style of the UK broadsheets, the familiar tone of the Mail, the straight ahead descriptions of the US TV and sports sites, or the passion and enthusiasm of the footy magazines and fan blogs, you know that you're going to get the style and content that best appeals to you. Highly-edited professional content or more informal writing - it's all available for your listening pleasure with Soccer Aloud.

Second, because you have access to both text and audio, you can switch between them at any point or use both at once.

Finally, with Soccer Aloud you can save bandwidth and storage compared to podcasts. You can download or store around 200 articles in Soccer Aloud in the same space as a single episode of a podcast. A typical hour-long podcast weighs in at 30MB. The average web page with a decent length article is a comparitively slender 150KB. That's significant. Very useful if your device doesn't have much storage, you've hit a bandwidth cap, or you're going on a trip where you might not have network access for a while.

Currently using a podcast app on your commute? Check out the top 6 reasons to use Soccer Aloud if you're a commuter.

Soccer Aloud is a great complement to the podcast app you're currently using. I still enjoy podcasts, particularly those that are familiar and personal. But more and more I'm turning to Soccer Aloud to catch up on news. When there's something I really want to read, but I'm too tired or my hands are occupied, I turn to Soccer Aloud. If you listen to podcasts currently, I heartily recommend Soccer Aloud. Try it out. See how it can add to your audio options.

In summary:

Learn more about Soccer Aloud's benefits >

Learn more about Soccer Aloud's 3 Freedoms >

Learn more about how Soccer Aloud is great for commuters >

Soccer Aloud 1.8.9 - Available Now

We're pleased to announce the release of a new version of our iPhone app, Soccer Aloud. Version 1.8.9 is available in the App Store now.

This version features performance improvements for long articles. Whether you're listening to a short 5 paragraph article or one that's 20 pages long, the app will start speaking quickly and the interface will remain responsive.

Soccer Aloud 1.8.5 - Available Now

We're pleased to announce the release of a new version of our iPhone app, Soccer Aloud. Version 1.8.5 is available in the App Store now.

This version features improved pronunciation for your football heroes in the English Premier League. We've tweaked and added player names for the following football clubs: Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Everton, QPR, West Brom, Stoke City, West Ham, Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Burnley.

We also compressed the app just a bit harder to cut the size of the app and save even more space on your device.

Soccer Aloud Part I

I used to be content to read the football news. I had match reports, game analysis, transfer rumours, and general gossip to entertain me and there were a few websites and writers that I loved to read.

But I kept hitting situations where I wanted the info, but I didn't want to read. If I was partway through an article when I had to do the washing up, I'd have to wait to finish or risk drowning my phone. I'd be traveling to work and I couldn't use my hands to scroll and tap links, so I couldn't read. My eyes would get tired at the end of the day and I'd want to relax, but I still wanted to know what my pals at FourFourTwo had to say. I definitely couldn't read while I was working out.

Around the time of World Cup 2014, I got motivated to find a better way to get access to my favourite writing in a format that would work with my other activities. I'd heard that speech was the latest thing. Siri was taking off. Maybe there was something I could do with this amazing technology that we all have in our phones.

So I started trying the user features built in to the operating system to read web pages. I thought it would just work.

But it didn't.

It was a little hard to get the phone to speak a web page, but once I'd worked out how to do it, I was confused by the results. The voice quality was good, but I was having a really hard time understanding the speech. I lost the meaning of what was being read so easily. It was hard to understand. And it was fatiguing. Even when I could understand what was being said, I felt like I was getting punched in the ears. WTF!?

OK, I thought, I'll try some of the apps out there that claim to be able to read to you.

Still not good.

They had problems recognizing which parts of the web page made up the article I wanted to hear. Or they'd mispronounce things. Or they didn't understand punctuation. Or they didn't have an offline mode where I could queue up things I wanted to hear. And none of them understood what they were reading. They didn't know the difference between a score and a formation. They didn't know that "Man Utd" and "Manchester United" are the same. They sure didn't get that English speakers need to be able to read French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, African names. Even the best made me tired listening to the synthesized speech for any length of time. It just wasn't working.

I'm a programmer and while I didn't want to write code to listen to a website, I'd recently worked on an app that did some speech synthesis. I knew the basic ingredients to get text converted to speech. I knew that speech quality had really progressed. I knew that speech synthesizers just didn't have to sound like Stephen Hawking anymore. I knew that synthesized speech didn't have to be tiring. And I knew that it had to be possible to fix the problems I was seeing.

But how many problems were we talking about?

I did a quick estimate using an article that I knew was giving the phone a hard time. It had about 5 errors per paragraph or about 1 error every 10 words! No wonder I couldn't understand it. At first I was depressed. Many smart people have been working on speech synthesis for a long time and we're still at the stage where 10% of the speech is unintelligible or confusing. How am I going to make a dent in that?

I took a break. Hit the speed bag for a bit.

But the problem niggled at me. I'd heard good synthesized speech. Not every article had the problems to the same extent. I had some ideas about characteristics of human speech that I knew weren't being exploited by the other apps. What if I used that insight and combined it with fixes for all the errors in that article? Would that do it or would it still be exhausting to listen to? Was speech synthesis flawed or was it just a numbers game? Could a war of attrition against the errors produce something that would be enjoyable to listen to?

I formulated a theory: reduce the errors and listener fatigue will go down at the same time as understanding goes up.

So I tested it.

I created an app that could speak an article aloud. I added specific fixes for every oddity in that one problematic article. And I sprinkled in that one weird trick to mimic human speech that I had come up with. And then I listened to that web page. It was amazing. Like night and day. I listened once and then again and again. I could understand! I didn't feel like my ears were being brutalized! Theory confirmed.

And then I listened again. To the same article. And it was annoying. Seriously! What the hell? I'd just fixed all the errors. What now?

It turns out that when you fix the obvious errors, less obvious "errors" become apparent. If you think you might have to listen to something for an hour at a time, you get past listening only for out-and-out defects and you start thinking about fluency. So I made another pass on the article fixing things up. Correcting things that were already "correct". Then I made another pass. Then another. Each time the speech became easier to understand and more pleasant to listen to. It took five passes through that article before I was satisfied.

But I was satisfied. I'd proved to myself that I could take some football news and write an app that could read it aloud. And I'd found a focus for all future work: reduce listener fatigue by increasing the fluency of the speech. It wasn't enough to provide isolated pronunciations for single words, I had to listen to the rhythm and phrasing to keep it fluent.

Getting fluent speech for that one article was a lot of work, but I could see the possibilities. I accepted the challenge in front of me and I started developing an app. That app became Soccer Aloud.

Making the app read the next article fluently was no easier than the first article. It seemed like none of the fixes for the first article applied to the second. Same for the third article and the fourth and the fifth. But I was determined to push on. Each new article came out sounding great - that was enough. At some point, I don't know when, perhaps 50 articles in, I saw a couple of fixes from previous articles that actually applied to the current one. Perhaps things were going to get easier?

Soccer Aloud 1.0 - Available Now

We're pleased to announce the release of our iPhone app, Soccer Aloud. Version 1.0 is available in the App Store now.