Although it’s probably good to unplug from the various social networks every now and again, I’m generally watching them during all of my waking hours. That leads to my eyes wandering across many client applications and devices, though. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just hear the updates while I was working, running or driving, for example? RadioMe, a beta application for Android devices, hopes to deliver just that.
I took the software for a spin, and it works as advertised, but there’s definitely room for improvement. The setup process was fairly simple: Download, install and choose which online providers you want the app to monitor. For now, RadioMe supports Twitter, Facebook, Gmail (s goog), RSS feeds and text messages, although I couldn’t get the software to link up with Facebook. I did connect my Twitter account without any problems, and as the tweets began flowing, so too, did the audio updates in a computerized voice.
I’m not too concerned about the voice because it handled most pronunciation quite well. And if you don’t like the default voice, you can purchase and install other voice engines from the Android Market. The bigger issue to me is two-fold. First, as the app works now, it simply reads every update that hit my Twitter feed. I see no way to configure the software to only read mentions or replies, for example. And second, a huge portion of social networking is the shared links and photos that people provide. Each time RadioMe sees one of these in a tweet, it simply says “link.”
There are other welcome configuration controls, however. Since the app runs in the background, the developers accounted for music listeners that still want to hear social networking updates: You can set an audio reduction level for music volume to decrease while updates are read. The number and frequency of updates can be modified, as well.
I like the concept of RadioMe, which is similar to Vlingo and other text-to-speech solutions. The folks behind the app are going after a social networking radio station, which is an interesting idea. But for some, the software would be far more useful, at least for Twitter and Facebook, if it offered more control over which social networking updates it reads instead of simply reading them all. Since it’s a beta product, there’s room and time for improvement. Once a finer level of control is provided, RadioMe could offer more appeal by speaking less, or at least offering that as an option.