Bosch partners with Speaking Email to provide email in cars

Jan 5, 2017

A Kiwi-made app is getting global attention after securing a strategic partnership with technology giant Bosch to bring email into cars.

Bosch is this week featuring Speaking Email as part of their stand at the renowned Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas from January 5-8.

Speaking Email is an app that reads emails aloud so people can safely check their email while driving.

Bosch is incorporating Speaking Email into their mySPIN platform, which enables drivers to use authorised apps on their iPhone or Android smartphone via a touchscreen integrated into cars and motorbikes.
“We are very happy that Speaking Email joined the mySPIN eco-system and are convinced that their existing solution will add further value to our customer’s offering to drivers” says Kay Herget, Global Head of Marketing at Bosch Softtec, Bosch’s business unit who develops mySPIN.

The event showcases the latest in innovative devices, gadgets, software and services and draws vast crowds. Last year 175,000 people attended the show.

Speaking Email was developed by small Auckland web development company, beweb, after director Mike Nelson got frustrated with the lack of such a product on the market.

Mr Nelson says the partnership with Bosch is major coup for the app which was launched last year.

“Bosch is way ahead in automotive technology – they have the only connected car system that allows apps to work seamlessly in the vehicle, so it is a perfect fit for us and very exciting they have chosen to partner with us,” he says.

“Thousands of technophiles will be able to see the app in action in Las Vegas so we are stoked that our New Zealand made app is making it on the global stage.”

Speaking Email differs from other alternatives in that it enables users to focus on important email content by avoiding reading out clutter – including signatures, disclaimers, reply chains and junk mail.

A premium version features the ability to archive, flag, trash or even reply on the move. Recently released features include voice selection and multilingual mode which detects emails written in other languages and reads them with native pronunciation.

Speaking Email can be downloaded free from the App Store or Google Play and works with all email platforms.

To download visit http://www.speaking.email

Improved mail fetching, voices and new buttons

We’ve been quietly beavering away on improving the mail fetching, fixing some bugs, and putting user feedback into action.

We now have some great features to push live.

Improved mail fetching

We have dedicated a lot of time to improving the mail fetching across all platforms. If you experienced issues with emails downloading, we hope you will try again now that we think we have ironed out all the wrinkles. In particular, Office 365 users will now notice a much improved experience without the previous timeouts and errors.

Voices

On iOS you can now choose which voices you would like to introduce and read out your emails. If you speak more than one language, Speaking Email can now automatically switch voices to match the language detected in the email content. This will be coming to Android too.

New button overlay

A number of users asked for one or two extra buttons but we had trouble fitting them in. We’ve done away with the 3 or 4 small buttons at the bottom of the screen. You now single-tap anywhere on screen to show the new command button overlay sporting bigger buttons, which are easy to tap while driving. As requested by users, we have included a Trash button in addition to Archive.

Get briefed on your important email as you drive to work 

At Speaking Email we realise you want to save time not waste it. That’s why we avoid reading out clutter.

But how do we do that? We’ve now got 6 ways to keep you hearing your most important emails.

1. Ignored senders

Our most recent addition is a little feature we call “ignored senders”. With two taps you flag an email for ignoring and that sender will be skipped in future. It still reads out the name and then says “skipping this sender” so you are aware – and you can tap again to unignore.

img_2723
Just tap to ignore this sender in future

2. Reply thread skipping

Emails often contain long threads of replies and forwards. I prefer to listen to these and then swipe next when I’ve heard enough. You may prefer we don’t read these out at all. We have a feature that looks for your name or email address within thread headers and skips the rest of the email when we have evidence this email thread has crossed your path already. This is a really nice feature for busy people listening handsfree.

img_2687

“Skipping the rest as it was in reply to an email sent by you”

 

3. Signature skipping

Within emails we detect and skip over bits of irrelevant content. This includes email signatures, legal disclaimers, footers, contact details such as phone and fax blocks, long strings of digits, IDs, URLs, characters such as ———–.

“skipping disclaimer”

4. New emails only

If you want to hear only new emails we have two switches for this, either unread only or unplayed only. The difference is “unread” uses the server status to tell if it’s been marked as read from any mail client, while unplayed is just whether Speaking Email has read it out already.

5. Gmail category tabs

Promotional, social, updates and forums. If you use gmail you can switch on or off any of these gmail categorisations in account settings.

Screenshot_1

6. Skip promotional emails

Sick of listening to junk mail and newsletters? There’s a switch to turn these off. We detect promotional emails simply by looking for unsubscribe links.

“From: Outlook. Speaking Email is skipping this promotional email”


Get briefed on your important email as you drive to work 

At Speaking Email we realise you want to save time not waste it. That’s why we avoid reading out clutter.

But how do we do that? We’ve now got 6 ways to keep you hearing your most important emails.

1. Ignored senders

Our most recent addition is a little feature we call “ignored senders”. With two taps you flag an email for ignoring and that sender will be skipped in future. It still reads out the name and then says “skipping this sender” so you are aware – and you can tap again to unignore.

img_2723
Just tap to ignore this sender in future

2. Reply thread skipping

Emails often contain long threads of replies and forwards. I prefer to listen to these and then swipe next when I’ve heard enough. You may prefer we don’t read these out at all. We have a feature that looks for your name or email address within thread headers and skips the rest of the email when we have evidence this email thread has crossed your path already. This is a really nice feature for busy people listening handsfree.

img_2687

“Skipping the rest as it was in reply to an email sent by you”

 

3. Signature skipping

Within emails we detect and skip over bits of irrelevant content. This includes email signatures, legal disclaimers, footers, contact details such as phone and fax blocks, long strings of digits, IDs, URLs, characters such as ———–.

“skipping disclaimer”

4. New emails only

If you want to hear only new emails we have two switches for this, either unread only or unplayed only. The difference is “unread” uses the server status to tell if it’s been marked as read from any mail client, while unplayed is just whether Speaking Email has read it out already.

5. Gmail category tabs

Promotional, social, updates and forums. If you use gmail you can switch on or off any of these gmail categorisations in account settings.

Screenshot_1

6. Skip promotional emails

Sick of listening to junk mail and newsletters? There’s a switch to turn these off. We detect promotional emails simply by looking for unsubscribe links.

“From: Outlook. Speaking Email is skipping this promotional email”


Get briefed on your important email as you drive to work 

At Speaking Email we realise you want to save time not waste it. That’s why we avoid reading out clutter.

But how do we do that? We’ve now got 6 ways to keep you hearing your most important emails.

1. Ignored senders

Our most recent addition is a little feature we call “ignored senders”. With two taps you flag an email for ignoring and that sender will be skipped in future. It still reads out the name and then says “skipping this sender” so you are aware – and you can tap again to unignore.

img_2723
Just tap to ignore this sender in future

2. Reply thread skipping

Emails often contain long threads of replies and forwards. I prefer to listen to these and then swipe next when I’ve heard enough. You may prefer we don’t read these out at all. We have a feature that looks for your name or email address within thread headers and skips the rest of the email when we have evidence this email thread has crossed your path already. This is a really nice feature for busy people listening handsfree.

img_2687

“Skipping the rest as it was in reply to an email sent by you”

 

3. Signature skipping

Within emails we detect and skip over bits of irrelevant content. This includes email signatures, legal disclaimers, footers, contact details such as phone and fax blocks, long strings of digits, IDs, URLs, characters such as ———–.

“skipping disclaimer”

4. New emails only

If you want to hear only new emails we have two switches for this, either unread only or unplayed only. The difference is “unread” uses the server status to tell if it’s been marked as read from any mail client, while unplayed is just whether Speaking Email has read it out already.

5. Gmail category tabs

Promotional, social, updates and forums. If you use gmail you can switch on or off any of these gmail categorisations in account settings.

Screenshot_1

6. Skip promotional emails

Sick of listening to junk mail and newsletters? There’s a switch to turn these off. We detect promotional emails simply by looking for unsubscribe links.

“From: Outlook. Speaking Email is skipping this promotional email”


Helping blind users read their email

Lots of people said this app would be great for blind people so we have been working with the blind community to make Speaking Email accessible using VoiceOver.

I’m pleased to announce that Speaking Email is now fully accessible with VoiceOver, the screen reader that blind people use to interact with their iPhone. We’ve been reviewed as a fully accessible app on AppleVis, the online community for visually impaired iPhone users.

We’ve had a lot of enthusiastic and supportive feedback from blind and visually impaired users, which makes this effort really feel worthwhile:

“I just wanted to say this app is awesome! It makes reading emails a lot easier.”

“Your app is one of a handful that could assist people with visual problems and I strongly support your efforts.”

“I want to thank you for this app because my 93 year old mother is almost blind from macular degeneration. She can now listen to her emails without needing someone to read them to her”

“The accessibility is awesome”

In the process we learnt a lot about making HTML5 apps WAI ARIA compliant, and some of the challenges around swipe and slide interactions using VoiceOver. A big problem is that VoiceOver takes over the swipe gestures, and a fundamental part of our app is what we call the “email slider” where you navigate emails by swiping left and right.

We managed to solve this by presenting the email slider as an ARIA “tabset”, which is a component that happens to be navigated by swiping left and right. We named the tabs by the title of the email (eg “Email from Fred Flintstone”) so the user can quickly flip between emails and hear VoiceOver read out the email title. A couple of seconds after the user stops changing tabs (ie swiping left and right), we then trigger our own text-to-speech engine to read out the email content nicely as usual. So we managed to present a swipe left and right interface using VoiceOver and WAI ARIA standards.

We got some amazing feedback from our beta testers during this, and their feedback helped drive this effort.

Stuff like this made our day:

“Speaking Email totally rocks! The accessibility is awesome!”

Check out Speaking Email at www.speaking.email – also usable while driving (or doing anything else). 

 

 

 

Speaking Email plays nicely with your enterprise Exchange and Office 365 

Speaking Email plays nicely with your enterprise Exchange and Office 365 

Speaking Email now has simplified connecting to Office 365 and supports enterprise security policies in Exchange. http://www.speaking.email

Some of our Exchange and Office 365 users had trouble connecting due to enterprise IT security polices. We’ve now implemented Microsoft’s ActiveSync provisioning protocol, enabling Speaking Email to play nicely with corporate IT policies. So more people in enterprises can use Speaking Email to listen to their email on the go. 
We also simplified the account set up process for Office 365 – many people were unsure what settings to use so it’s now preset. 

  
There are more enhancements for Exchange users coming. We recently added a setting allowing you to control the number of days back to sync your inbox (just like in iPhone mail app). We plan to improve this by adding an “auto” setting with automatically figures out the number of days based on number of emails you typically get. Too many days sync can cause major slowdowns for people with hundreds of emails a day. Too few means you many not see many new emails unless you use Speaking Email regularly. So we think automatically determining this will help some odd situations some users have reported and plan to make this the default setting.

   

  
Other things on the wishlist for Exchange are:

– plan to support autodiscovery of server settings based on email address

– quick replies (currently works with gmail automatically and others with configuration, but not available on Exchange)

– attachment speaking (reading out the contents of word or PDF docs attached to emails)

Let us know in the comments if you’d like to get your hands on any of these features or if you have another feature to suggest. 

Exchange sync days back option

Speaking Email currently can miss emails that are in the past when using Exchange server. This happens because we sync back only one day by default. If you only want to listen to your latest email this is not a problem. But if you expect to see emails from a few days ago, you will not see them.

We have now added a feature under account settings allowing you to choose how many days to sync back. Our sync defaults to one day, which means it checks for new mail since yesterday (i.e. it will not download mail from the day before yesterday).

If you get lots of mail and are up to date on reading it, this is a good setting. But if you don’t have heaps of mail every day, or want to listen to your inbox back a few days, you will want to set it to longer.

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