ClaroSpeak iOS 3.0 Released

Version 3 of our ClaroSpeak for iOS app was released towards the end of May 2018 and brought with it lots of great new features and improvements.  For a complete list of these changes, you can check the release notes here: ClaroSpeak 3.0 release notes.

One of the biggest changes gives everyone access to all of the iOS system voices, free of charge.  This means you can now choose male and female variants for different voice languages, as well as accessing higher-quality versions and the Siri voices.

Another change saw the font and colour options now being accessible from the keyboard:

font and colour button

font and colour button

This change not only lets you change these settings more quickly, but it also lets you see the changes as they are applied, so you can be sure to choose the right settings for you:

settings in real time

settings in real time

One of the best new features in V3 is the addition of the “Read with ClaroSpeak” web extension.  This lets you choose a webpage from Safari, or other browsers, and then have that web page read back to you with highlighting.  You can access this new extension from the Share menu in your browser app:

accessing "Read with ClaroSpeak" button

accessing “Read with ClaroSpeak” button

You can then tap on some text to set the start point and tap the play button and the text will be spoken back with highlighting so you can follow the text as it is being spoken:

speech with highlighting

speech with highlighting

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ClaroPDF iOS 2.1 Released

ClaroPDF iOS V2.1 is now available and brings some great new features and improvements – check out the release notes for a complete list of all changes. Here’s an overview of two of the new major changes:

Access to all of the iOS system voices

The 2.1 update of ClaroPDF lets you access all of the iOS system voices, including the Siri voices, for free. This is great, because now you can choose between male and female voices for the same language, as well as opting to use the higher-quality versions of those voices.

File sharing integration

ClaroPDF has always supported different ways of sharing your PDF files between apps and locations to make your workflow as simple and as fast as possible. Now, in V2.1, the app is fully integrated with the iOS Files app, which means you can now access, share and organise your PDF files directly in Files:

 

ClaroPDF in the Files App

Files App

Create new folders:

ClaroPDF in the Files App

Create new folders

Moves files:

Moves file

Moves file

You can tap a PDF document here and ClaroPDF will open it directly. All of the changes you make in the Files app, are reflected inside the ClaroPDF app.

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Claro AudioNote 1.1 Update

We’ve tweaked our audio recording and lecture capture program, Claro AudioNote. Recording multiple audio tracks into the same PowerPoint slide is much nicer, and we have added support for more recent Olympus audio recording devices like the DM-770. This means you can open recordings from these dedicated voice recorders and play them back. You can even use any bookmarks you’ve added to the recordings on your device to jump around the lecture to where you want to listen.

Claro AudioNote comes with ClaroRead Standard, Plus and Pro and you can download it from ClaroRead Cloud.

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ClaroRead for Mac V6.2 Released

We are pleased to announce the release of our latest version of ClaroRead for Mac, V6.2. There are lots of little improvements and bug fixes, but here are the top new features – check out the release notes for a complete list of all changes.

Future macOS Ready

The next version of macOS (after High Sierra) will only support 64-bit applications. ClaroRead V6.2 is now a 64-bit application, so ClaroRead and its Extras are all ready for that change.

Ignore Homophones

There are common words, such as “you” and “I”, which are homophones, but you probably never get them confused with the alternatives (like “ewe” and “eye”). In ClaroRead V6.2 you can now choose to ignore these kinds of homophones, so they don’t get highlighted when using the “Show Homophones” feature.

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ClaroRead V7.3 Released

We are pleased to announce the general availability of our latest version of ClaroRead for PC, V7.3. Of course, there are lots of little improvements and bug fixes, but here are the top new features – check out the release notes for a complete list of all changes.

Improved scanning/OCR

We know that converting inaccessible documents – paper or PDF or images – to readable Word or PDF files is very important to our users. We’ve updated ClaroRead with the very latest world-class OmniPage OCR engine to make sure that more documents work perfectly when you are getting ready to study, research or sit an exam. Documents produced by ClaroRead 7.3 will read better and more accurately, and we’ve worked to make ClaroRead 7.3 handle broken PDF files better so you know whatever you start with you can make a highly-compatible working accessible PDF file.

We’ve also added support for the Kurzweil eBook format. Schools and colleges often have books and documents as Kurzweil files, which is a problem if your students don’t have access to the Kurzweil software. ClaroRead 7.3 will convert Kurzweil into accessible PDF (or Word documents) so you can use your Kurzweil documents more freely.

Finally, we’ve decided to make ClaroRead output PDF/A by default. This is an “Archive” version of the PDF format that does some technical tweaks (like embedding fonts) to ensure that the PDFs you create work on more machines and devices. We think our users are increasingly consuming PDF on a variety of machines (Chromebooks, Android and iOS devices) and need the best inter-operability possible.

ClaroRead Chrome Extension

We’ve always supported reading web pages by selecting the text you want to hear, or using Scan from Screen. ClaroRead also supported reading web pages with highlighting – like in Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader – in the Internet Explorer browser: just click in the web page and press Play to read the page from that point.

The venerable Internet Explorer, however, has been superseded by the Google Chrome browser for most users. We’ve therefore built a ClaroRead Chrome Extension to give you reading with highlighting in web pages in Google Chrome, Google Docs, and PDFs you open in Google Chrome. We are really pleased with it, but of course an end user has to know it exists and how to get it.

ClaroRead for Windows 7.3 will therefore install the ClaroRead Chrome Extension, so it is easy for you to activate and use it. Of course we don’t activate it unless you say so – you’ll get a prompt the first Chrome next starts, and if you don’t turn it on you’ll never see the prompt again.

If you do choose to use ClaroRead Chrome you can unlock its premium features, including Scan from Screen, by entering your ClaroRead for Windows licence key into ClaroRead Chrome. We want our ClaroRead users to have the best experience and the widest range of tools available to them, no matter where they do their work and study.

More voices

We ship the very best-quality text-to-speech voices we can, because we know that having a voice that suits you is very important if you are going to use the software in the first place. Which voice you like best is a really personal preference, of course: that’s why we make thirteen English voices available to any end user (and 67 other voices if you are not reading English text).

Now Microsoft has started to ship good-quality voices for free with Windows 10, including many non-English voices like Swedish and Arabic. This means extra choice, which is great for end users: but Microsoft has decided to ship these new voices in a special format which meant that they were not available to ClaroRead (and other traditional desktop software).

We’ve done the work in ClaroRead 7.3 to make these new free Microsoft Mobile voices available for you to use: you will see them in the Speech settings in ClaroRead and they start with “Microsoft”, like “Microsoft George”, but do not have the word “Desktop” in them. Try them out, you might find one that suits you!

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ClaroRead Chrome Extension 14 Released

We’re pleased to announce another update to our Google Chrome web browser extension for Windows, Mac and Chromebook.

ClaroRead Chrome Extension Premium users have a Scan from Screen feature. This lets you simply select part of the screen with the mouse and hear it read aloud to you. We’ve made it much faster, especially the first time it is used, and we’ve also added the option to copy the text into the clipboard when it is selected so you can paste it into another application. This is perfect for websites like Google Books or anywhere where you can see the text you want but selecting it is impossible.

The ClaroRead Chrome Extension is free in the Chrome Web Store, but Premium is not: but you may be able to get Premium if you have a ClaroRead for PC or Mac licence key. Just open the ClaroRead Chrome Extension settings and click “Upgrade to Premium” and paste in your licence key, and the Premium features will be unlocked permanently for you!

A couple of other little tweaks: new users get a welcome tab explaining the extension they’ve just enabled, and if you open Settings then your Google Domain is displayed at the bottom – great if you are enabling a site licence of ClaroRead Chrome extension and need to know your Google Domain to do it.

Get the ClaroRead Chrome Extension for Google Chrome now! Available free on Windows, Mac or Chromebook. Or check out the release notes for more details.

Controlling Claro VR Apps

We’ve recently developed and released some VR apps for iOS and Android which have been received well.  However, one question that keeps popping up is: How can I control the app?
There is a lack of accessible, adequate control for VR apps.  Generally, there are two forms of user control when using VR apps:
  1. Headset controls.
  2. External controller pads.

Headsets

There are not many headsets that have built in controls.  The main one is the Samsung Gear VR headset that has a directional touch pad as well as back and home buttons:
Samsung Gear VR controls
This works well with our Android apps but this particular headset is only compatible with a limited set of Samsung mobile devices: Galaxy S8 / S8+ / S7 / S7 edge / Note5 / S6 edge+ / S6 /S6 edge (as of December 2017)

 

A cheaper and more accessible alternative to the Gear VR headset is the Google Cardboard headset (or similar).  These are made of cardboard and are around £15 to buy on the Google Store:

 

Cardboard supports most Android or iOS phones with screen sizes from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).  Control is rather limited on these however and is restricted to a single tap on the phones screen:
Google Cardboard
 You can use this single tap feature to perform the main functions in our VR apps.  In MagVR, for example, a single tap will zoom in, until maximum zoom and then the next single tap will zoom out.

 

An example of an alternative cardboard headset would be something like this:

 

 

 

A caveat with using these type of headsets, is that you have to poke/cut a hole in the face, so the device’s camera can see out.  That is why cardboard is suitable! Other suitable headsets include ones with removable or retractable front faces, so the camera can see out.

 

Controllers

Controllers or gamepads are more generic and there are lots to choose from.  These include the more traditional types that you might normally associate with games consoles, that have the X/Y/B/A buttons.

 

XYBA controls
If these state that they are iOS and/or Android compatible then you can use them to control our apps.
An example of one that we tried and tested on iOS, is the Mad Catz Controller:

 

 

 

 

For this particular model, there is also an Android version available.

 

On Android, we used the SteelSeries Nimbus/Stratus controller

 

 

 

These controllers work well but you have to hold and control them with both hands.  If you would prefer something smaller, our VR apps also support “mini” controllers.  These are quite cheap and small, so you can hold the controller and use it with one hand.

 

Mini controller
These mini controllers often have two modes: “game” and “key” or something similar.  To control our apps, they should be toggled to game mode.

 

 

 

iOS Apple Watch

Our iOS apps can also be controlled using an Apple Watch.  When you install one of our VR apps on iOS, you’ll also get the corresponding Watch App installed on your Apple Watch.  You can open this app and control the phone app.

ClaroRead Anywhere 13 Released

We’ve updated our cross-platform Web App, ClaroRead Anywhere. This works on tablets, desktops, phones in any modern browser, so it’s great to provide speech and OCR across a wide range of users without needing to install anything.

Here’s what’s new:

  • We’ve done some design work and cleaned up how the App looks. We’ve introduced a File button that gives you access to your cloud drive and your local drive for saving and loading documents, which is cleaner and more familiar from both traditional desktop programs and modern web apps like Google Docs. We’ve put labels on the buttons so new users can find their way around more easily. And we’ve cleaned up the save and load dialogs to better tell you what you are doing and what your options are. ClaroRead Anywhere is likely to be used occasionally, not every day, so we can’t assume users know their way around it: keeping the user interface obvious and clean is important.
  • Users on Android will find that the Dictate button is now available and you can speak into ClaroRead Anywhere to see your text appear – no typing required! Android uses the Google speech recognition services, which are coming along brilliantly, so it’s great to be able to make these available to our users and let them get down the text they want without having to fight with typing and spelling.
  • We think ClaroRead Anywhere is about proofing and getting text down rather than polishing your final document, but still it’s nice to be able to open a Word document or do some editing and get out a document that keeps some of your formatting. We’ve therefore enabled saving as a cross-platform Rich Text File (.RTF) document, which will open in Word or Google Docs and keeps your bold text, italics, bullet points, underlines, font sizes and other formatting intact.
  • Finally, some improvements to word prediction: predictions stay visible so long as they match, meaning it’s easier to check out the suggestions, and we have expanded the supported languages from English, Dutch and Swedish to include Arabic, French, German, Polish and Spanish. Just switch to a voice in that language and prediction will switch too.

ClaroRead Anywhere is available to end-users of ClaroRead and as part of an annual ClaroRead site licence. Check out the ClaroRead Anywhere web page for more details!

ClaroPDF Android Released

We are happy to announce the first release of ClaroPDF Android, an easy-to-use speaking PDF reading app for Android phones and tablets. It’s a simpler version of our hugely-successful ClaroPDF for iPhone and iPad and tries to provide the same convenience and usability for anyone who needs to be able to read back accessible PDF files, for study or reference.

  • Tap to open PDF files using the Android file picker, which gives you access to PDF files saved on your phone and also integrates smoothly with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and other cloud file stores.
  • Then just tap in the PDF to show where to start and the PDF will be read back from the point of your finger. You can stop and make it repeat itself as many times as you want, read whole documents at your leisure, and relax while ebooks and references are read aloud to you with high-quality speech.
  • Choose from dozens of voices from Google and other vendors covering many accents and languages, and set the voice speed for faster reading (so you get through things faster) or slower (to give you time to digest and understand).

Want to read PDF files on your iPhone or iPad? ClaroPDF for iOS contains all the reading functionality of ClaroPDF for Android and more, and on iPhone and iPad you can also get ClaroPDF Pro, which lets you convert images and inaccessible PDFs into readable PDFs. On a Windows or Mac? Try our reading toolbar, ClaroRead.

Get ClaroPDF Android on Google Play now! Or, for more details, check out the release notes.

Claro ScanPen Premium iOS Released

Introducing Claro ScanPen Premium – a free-to-download iOS app which allows you to have 10 free scans. You can optionally sign up for the annual subscription to get a free 14 day trial. If you don’t cancel during the free trial, you will get charged the £9.99 annual subscription (correct as of October 2017). With an active subscription you have unlimited scans and unlimited access to all of our high-quality voices (currently Nuance Expressive, Acapela and children’s voices).

Claro ScanPen Premium joins our Claro ScanPen family alongside the standard Claro ScanPen version which is still available to purchase outright for £6.99 (correct as of October 2017).

Below is a comparison chart highlighting the differences between the two versions (click to enlarge or visit the original chart):

When you first launch Claro ScanPen Premium, you will see the following launch screen, just select whether you’d like to have the 10 free scans or sign up for the 14 day free trial (with the option to cancel at any time).

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