Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pdf-to-Speech 11.0.1

Version  11.0.1 is out with some fixes.  As always, this blog post contains somewhat technical description of changes.  It is meant for hard-core users and developers looking to partner with Practical Android Apps.  Users in general are invited to follow us at Google+


  • Freeze (ANR) addressed:  over the previous update, the number of freezes has been reduced.  The freezes where due to the way Pdf-to-Speech has to interact with the android services. Using my background in parallel computing, I redesign the complete Text-to-Speech service to make it virtually impossible for the app to freeze.  Now, all the modules are able to share resources without deadlocking one another.
  • Fixed find/replace tool:  Better practices where used to avoid error when saving certain symbols on the find/replace tool.
  • Switch Google Account:  The initial release of Google Drive support did not include switch Google Accounts as a requirement.  This version ensures the previous Google account's file information is cleaned before loading the new account.  The user must have multiple Google Account's on the device for this feature to be noticed.
  • Support for text codecs:  The support for codecs on text files was revisited.  Better use of libraries was used to provide reliable support for Lating-1 (ISO9986), ASCII, and UTF-8.  UTF-8 is the standard used in the US, and Android OS standard.
Version 11.0
A user suggested support to open hyperlinks from the sentence viewer.  This feature was added for hyperlinks that are spelled out on any document (doc, pdf, txt, or epub).  Also, the hyperlinks encoded in MS doc files are now linked on the sentence viewer.  Future updates may include hyperlinks encoded into the pdf file.  

What is cooking in the oven ?
  • The Web-to-Speech feature on the current version will be improved with a redesign of this use case.
  • The Front-end shall be tweaked to display more than one sentence at a time.
Other user suggestions that are on the TODO list for future updates include:
  • The find/replace tools will be redesigned so the user can do straight find/replace words.  But for more advanced users, a find/replace tool that accepts patterns will be added.
  • Other features will be published as the release date nears !
If you are not a Pdf-to-Speech user already, you can find the app at:
and at 
Let me know if you would like to see Pdf-to-Speech on a market that is more convenient given your device.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pdf-To-Speech 9.5

As we continue to practice fast release cycles on Pdf-to-Speech, version 9.5 adds support for Microsoft Word (.doc). I used code from the Apache POI project to parse the .doc documents. The library works seamlessly and the feature is now part of the app.

There is an Apache POI library on However, the project does not seem to have too much activity. If other fellow developers are interested in the version we forked for Pdf-to-Speech, let us know and we will release the code under Apache 2.0 License.

Also, development on an Intent API to allow developer's apps to use Pdf-to-Speech is still an open proposition. However, we first need to see interest from fellow developers.

We are now focusing on providing features to increase user's access to their data, no matter where it is. And the addition of Google Docs-to-speech is still on the pipeline.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pdf-To-Speech 8.9

The latest update of Pdf-to-Speech sports an automatic header and footer extractor. Thanks to B. Real feedback, we've added automatic footer and header extraction. The update is immediately available on the Android Maket and will be available on the Amazon Market soon.

For version 9.0 we plan to have ePub format support. A rebuild of the file loading tab is on schedule as well to make the tab focus more on the searching tool.

For version 10.0, we are pondering adding Google Doc's to speech. We welcome feedback on the usefulness of this feature.

As Real's feedback shows, we depend on your feedback to make pdf-to-speech a more useful tool for your every day needs. You can post your feed back as a comment on the Android or Amazon market, on this blog, or at Pdf-to-Speech's Google+ page here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to take out footer And headers in your PDF

Follow this link to read a tutorial on the use of the Find/Replace tool in Pdf-to-Speech. The tool is useful to take out the header and footer from the PDF documents when read with text-to-speech. The tools is also useful to replace words with phonetical equivalents.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pdf-To-Speech 9

On January 1, 2012 Pdf-to-speech 8.5 was released. The update addressed a force-close that was happening when the phone comes off standby while playing a pdf file. The settings tab was improved to comply with Android setting's standards. This year, the pdf-to-speech app will receive additional bug fixes to improve stability on multiple Android phones.

For version 9 of the Pdf-to-speech, I would like to release an Intent-based extension of the app that will allow other Android app developers to turn multiple other document formats to speech using pdf-to-spech's engine (epub, oppenoffice, etc). I will be releasing the API's and documentation on how to do this as the work is done. In the mean time, I welcome interest and suggestions by fellow developers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pdf-To-Speech 8

We have listen to users' suggestions and the most commonly requested feature is speed. So the next version, version 8, will have an experiment Pdf reader that can be three times as fast on a Galaxy S or comparable phone, and can be twice as fast on a Xoom or comparable tablet.

The figure to the right shows how long it takes for the app to load the first page of Moby Dick, a 1047 page document. On average, the reader will now take about 3 seconds to read any random page on the document (images and other media can delay the reader).

The update is almost ready. The feature will be provided as experimental because there are many PDF creators, and it will take some time to verify the Fast PDF reader can process multiple types of PDF files. So be sure to give us your feedback.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pdf-to-Speech 5.0

We added OCR to Pdf-to-Speech. The app can now be used to read text in pictures that are embedded in a PDF document.

To use the feature. go to Settings and select Google Docs as the text extraction engine. A few things to note:
  • Google OCR is in beta and a quota is in effect, so the service may stop as the quota is reached.
  • Pdfbox, the default text extractor is better at reading Pdf's with columns than Google OCR.

Upcoming updates will allow the app to read jpegs and pngs.