Speaking Email is an iPhone app that reads your email out loud. Simple interface designed to be usable while driving. Next, back, archive, flag, instant reply. They’ve created this app with driving safety top-of-mind. Your emails can be continuously spoken, meaning you never need to look at or touch the phone. Whip through your inbox, clear clutter, flag important items and make inbox zero a reality – all while on the go.
The app was developed by New Zealand company, beweb, after director Mike Nelson got frustrated with the lack of such a product on the market. He wanted to use his daily commute from Auckland’s North Shore into the city to listen to emails, without taking his eyes off the road.
“It takes a lot of time out of my day just going through my email inbox and I thought I could use my commute time to do that. Apps need to be designed for use while driving, and the standard apps which come with most phones simply aren’t safe – but you see people in traffic using them. He tried Siri of course, but she doesn’t read out full text of emails, and isn’t designed with drivers in mind either. So he came up with this idea of making it as safe as possible to listen to email while driving,” Mike says.
Speaking Email reads through your inbox continuously. If you want to star or archive an email, you can do so with simple big swipes across the screen; there’s no need to take your eyes off the road. As per mike anything can be a distraction while driving – including talking to passengers, hands free phone calls, kids and music. In contrast, listening to emails is mostly passive and requires minimal to zero interaction. He points to a 2008 study from the University of South Carolina showing that speaking and planning to speak is four times more distracting as listening. With Speaking Email all text is read aloud from each email in your inbox. Email signatures, disclaimers, phone numbers and other common text that clogs email are skipped. So you can listen completely hands free without any interaction.
He says just listening to your inbox helps you keep a handle on what you need to get done in the day. But you can take it a step further and clear clutter from your inbox.
“They say people with cluttered inboxes waste a lot of time. They’ve created Speaking Email to enable decluttering – with a simple double tap anywhere on the screen can archive an email without looking. This way you can clear your inbox on the way to work.”
If you have your phone in a fixed mounting, occasional taps and swipes are legal in most countries and states. So you can use it to triage your email – archive, flag or skip – without taking your eyes off the road. There is also a quick reply feature with pre-loaded text for a ‘thanks’ or ‘ok’. They purposely don’t allow typed replies because that is cumbersome and dangerous when people are on the roads,
Speaking Email has the flexibility for users to set it up the way that suits their email use – from speaking all emails, just those previously not read out, or only new emails. There’s also options for using multiple accounts and different ways for users to triage their emails.
The app is available for iPhone and Android. It works with Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, iCloud and most other email servers. Microsoft Exchange support has recently been added and is proving very popular for business users.
“With the addition of Microsoft Exchange, which is huge in the enterprise market, they now cover 95% of email servers – more than most email apps” says Mike.
Speaking Email is currently available on the Apple App Store and Google Play store at NZ$9.99.
Beweb has been developing websites and web applications for New Zealand companies since 2000. Speaking Email is the company’s first app. They saw this as an opportunity to not only create an app that they wanted to use, but to learn the process of creating, launching and marketing an app. Every aspect of this project has been a lot harder and more time consuming that they would have thought it would be. But it has also been fun and a great way to learn. They now have a lot more knowledge and understanding of apps, and we are able to share this knowledge with their own clients.”
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