Web/iOS: If your feed reader never seems to drop below 1000+ unread items, it's probably because you're reading with just your eyes. SoundGecko — the brainchild of three guys based in Melbourne — uses text-to-speech to let you read online articles with your ears. And its iOS app has just been updated with a big list of new features, including a freshened-up interface, categorised stations and push notifications.
We first heard about SoundGecko last year when it was better known as a web service that converted articles from text to speech and emailed them to you. Now, the iOS app is a robust news reader on its own with preset stations categorised by subject and the ability to create your own customised station based on your particular interests.
The update also brings a new feature that lets you add articles from directly within the app. Just copy the URL of the article you want to convert from text to audio, press the plus button in the "My articles" tab, and the app will take the link and let you know when the conversion process has finished. If you just want to read the headlines, SoundGecko can do so with one tap and automatically mark those articles as read as it works its way down the list.
It's similar in concept to Umano, which I mentioned in my How We Work post not long ago. The difference is that Umano hires professional voice actors to read a fixed list of items, and SoundGecko uses computer voices to read its own curated list as well as any that you add yourself.
You'll notice that SoundGecko can take some time to convert articles, since the transcription is done by a third-party provider. And if you want to listen to more than 30 individual news items in a day, you'll need to upgrade to the Pro version for $2.95 per month. If you think SoundGecko can help you get to zero unread items, then it might be worth considering, since it comes with extra features that could boost your productivity in other ways.
SoundGecko (free) [iTunes App Store]