Parsing important email from junk is the first workday task many face.
Winnowing the inbox on the way to work can reduce the tedium, especially if you don't have to stare at the screen.
One such solution is Talkler -- a free iOS app that lets you listen to, delete, reply, and manage email accounts using voice commands.
The app -- which is compatible with Apple's VoiceOver screen reader -- was designed to make email functions more accessible to persons who are blind or visually impaired. Talkler can also help persons with limited mobility or commuters seeking hands-free email access.
Talkler's voice recognition function resides within iOS and not, as with most systems, in a Cloud-based loop. This makes for faster and more secure processing.
Downloading & Using Talkler
You can download Talkler from the App Store. On the first launch, the app walks you through the account setup process and connects your email accounts. You must view and accept the license agreement and enter your name, email address, and password.
If you have an AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, iCloud, or Yahoo account, Talkler auto-fills information that ISP account users are prompted to enter manually, e.g. incoming or outgoing servers.
Talkler's "Settings" menu offers customization options, such as speech rate, pitch, voice command sensitivity, and how frequently it checks for new emails. You can also specify which email information Talker reads, including email recipient names and attachments.
While Talkler can be used hands-free, headphones are recommended to mute distortion from background noises.
Talkler Voice Commands & Gestures
To use Talkler, say "Hey Talkler" to alert the app and precede each spoken command with that phrase. The Tips tab lists all voice commands. Asking "What Can I Say?" speaks the list aloud.
Talkler voice commands include:
- "Read my emails"
- "Play the next email"
- "Record a reply"
- "Mark unread"
- "Check for new mail."
In addition to voice commands, Talkler supports onscreen gestures, including TapAnywhere, a set of tap-toggle-controls located in the center of the screen.
With TapAnywhere, users can tap to pause playback and tap again to resume or swipe anywhere onscreen to move to the next email. There's also a pinching gesture -- like crumpling and tossing out a piece of paper -- that deletes emails.
The TapAnywhere feature frees low-vision users from having to find and press tiny buttons.
Reading, Replying to, & Deleting Emails
To play emails in your inbox, say, "Hey Talkler." A microphone icon appears above the "Talkler Tips" button. Then say, "Play my emails."
Talkler begins at the top and reads each email in descending order. As the app reads, words are displayed in oversized, auto-scrolling teleprompter text that remains in sync with the audio.
After Talkler reads each email, it prompts you for an action, e.g. "Delete this email," "Reply," or "Restart this email.
Talkler email replies are audio MP3 files, not text, but rather recorded messages similar to voicemail that require no proofreading.Prompts tell you to start and end the recording, after which, the app will ask whether or not to send the email.
If using IMAP, the inbox of your iOS device will reflect all actions taken in Talkler, e.g. delete an email in Talkler and it disappears off your iPhone. Otherwise, device emails must be deleted manually.
To delete emails from the inbox on your device, tap "Edit" in the upper right corner, double tap to select emails you wish to delete, and then tap "Delete" at the bottom of the screen.
Talkler Requirements & Compatibility
Talkler 1.0.3 is optimized for the iPhone 5. It works on the iPhone (3GS and up), iPad, and iPod touch (3rd generation and up). The app requires iOS 5.1 or later. File size: 126 MB.
Talkler was developed by Talkler Labs, based in Belmont, Massachusetts.