A new version of BabbleBox has been released, with enhancements focusing on telephony and better usage.
- Make a phone call and send SMS.
- For the above: numbers can be searched via the phonebook (done via a fuzzy, highest score algorithm) or by explicitly stating a phone number. For SMS, a mobile number will (for obvious reasons) always be selected, provided there’s one. For phone calls, a mobile number will be prioritized, but a fixed number will do.
- Added the Nuance Dragon Mobile speech engine for both recognition and synthesis, as an alternative to Google. In short: speech fidelity is higher, and it’s bundled with the app, but latency is higher than for Google.
- Settings for controlling the speech engines: pitch and rate for Google, gender for Nuance.
- Generally better default values for Settings, so that you normally don’t have to change anything for quick and practical use.
- Completed support for Swedish, automatically selected based on system language.
- Prepared the app for more languages, by moving everything locale-dependent out to resource files, including arrays of command words etc. This also enables third-party translation.
- Added icons that show what command is being performed and what service is being used, for clarity and look-n-feel.
- Added a new handsfree mode that opens with ‘listen’. Apart from that, identical to previous handsfree mode.
- Shows color-matched ads, that are dynamically set to the size of the display.
- Adapted graphics and text to different display sizes (from 3″ to 10″).
- Telephony, location and Bluetooth permissions are no longer required, hence making it possible to run the app on devices without any of those features.
- Generally improved the usage flow, to avoid the app easily getting stuck on “state confusion”.
- Moved out speech functionality to own classes, making the interface towards the Google and Nuance engines identical, and making it very easy to add speech to other apps.
The last point was the initial reason this effort was made, considering there are more function-rich apps on Google Play (Skyvi and Google Now come to mind, even though the latter oddly lacks the features BabbleBox has), so clearly there was no thought of making a blockbuster. Not that there’s a lack of future feature ideas. The list is long.
Even so, the fact that BabbleBox is simpler, and focused on communicating outwards, means it’s (hopefully) less bewildering and more meaningful if these features are what you need.
I’m considering making Nuance the default speech engine in future versions and other apps, considering that having it integrated means greater likelihood that it will work as intended. It also supports many languages out of the box, so it’s a quite powerful package.