If you’ve ever tried using the text-to-speech option in the Mac OS, your level of excitement may depend on when you did. In 1991, text to speech seemed like magic – despite the clipped and robotic voice the Mac used. If you tried it more recently, the same tinny fake sounding voice would be less impressive. For the first time a third party has put together a new, higher-quality voice: Speechissimo.
Freedom of speech
Speechissimo is a small utility that gives your Mac a new voice. Any text that you copy can be spoken in a clear, almost natural female voice. I say almost natural – it isn’t like you could mistake it for a human, but it’s considerably better than the Apple voices.
I suspect that the ability to read out text isn’t widely used by the average user, though it must be very useful for people with sight problems. For that reason the Speech Preference Pane is an important part of the operating system. It lets people get audible feedback from alerts and text. Unfortunately, Speechissimo doesn’t use the Speech Preference Pane to control its options; it acts as a standalone utility. This limits its functionality, especially to the customers most likely to want to pay for a high-quality text-to-speech function.
If you’re too lazy to read Web sites, text documents or email yourself, this might just be what the doctor ordered. If you require more-advanced text-to-speech functionality because of a disability then Speechissimo will be of limited use as it isn’t integrated with the Speech System Preference pane. However, you can use the system speech along side Speechissimo.