Best way to share audio + text content for viewing on iPhone?
July 5, 2014 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I want to create multi-page content consisting of text + spoken-word-audio, viewable on iPhone. Content consumption would work as follows: 1. Page displays text and plays audio (additional tap to launch audio would be okay) 2. User taps something to call up next page. My first thought was Powerpoint, but I haven't found an iPhone app that handles audio embedded in PPT. I'm limited to working on my Windows PC, so I think Keynote is out. Any thoughts on a format to use for the content, and app to use to consume it?

For context, this is meant to support a Xmas present for my 3-year-old niece.

Last time I was in Paris, I bought her a picture book (in French) about kittens. Neither my sister nor brother-in-law speaks French, but I do (well, enough French to read a book targeted at ages 2-4). So my idea is to record my self reading it out loud, page-by-page, paired with a text translation into English. That way, even though I live 1000 miles away, my sister can have me "read" it to my niece, yet my sister can follow along in English and explain to my niece as necessary. (And in case it's not clear, I'll be manually doing the translation myself.)

I want my sister to be able to store it and run it on her iPhone, for convenience. I want the content broken into pages so it can run at her pace, just like normal book-reading.

I don't have an iPhone (I use Android), but my wife does. I'm sure she'd let me do limited testing, but I'd rather not take over her phone for a day while I sort this out.

posted by bigjoec to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does this have to live on the iPhone itself? Text + embedded audio is pretty trivial to build into a webpage that could easily be viewed on an iPhone.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:43 PM on July 5, 2014

The easiest thing would probably be to use PowerPoint and Articulate, either Storyline or Articulate Studio '13 (a complete suite of tools which would probably be overkill for your purposes). Articulate's very simple Storyline software, which will let you create an interactive story visible on either Android or iPhone (HTML5, Flash or iOS output), is available for free on a 30 day trial basis (technical specs are available here). This should be plenty of time to play with the software and generate the story for your lucky niece.

Be aware that Articulate requires a recent OS (Win 7 or 8) and hardware and software (Office 2007 or 2010; 2013 might cause stability problems, and PowerPoint 2003 doesn't work with Audacity). Audacity will crash if you try to use it on XP!

By the way, TTS applications might also help you out: you can type out the French text and receive MP3 output using various pleasant-sounding male or female voices (avoid Quebec French!) which can easily be incorporated into your story video as alternate choices.

Camtasia Studio is a less-polished competitor with much less help available, so you're probably better off with Articulate.
posted by juifenasie at 6:06 PM on July 5, 2014

Oops! I meant to say that Powerpoint 2003 doesn't work with Articulate '13 (not Audacity).

Articulate lets you design interactive presentations, so you can incorporate more than one voice. Acapela Box is one possible source of native speaker voices.
posted by juifenasie at 3:55 AM on July 6, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the input, folks!

Tomorrowful - any suggestions for a way to put the content into a webpage, and where to have it hosted? (I haven't put anything on the web since, say, 1997). Web isn't ideal because I don't want connectivity issues to limit its usability, but it may be my best solution.

juifenasie - Thanks for your suggestion. Looks like neat software, but I wouldn't feel great using the free trial on something I know I'm never going to purchase. (And at $1400, I know I won't be purchasing Storyline for this.)

Thanks again,
posted by bigjoec at 6:46 PM on July 6, 2014

Bigjoec, it sounds like you are following the Shopkeeper Law, but in this particular case, you seem to be too strict with yourself. The makers of Articulate are *actively* seeking new users to try their software (in fact, they recently ran a promotion where you would be automatically eligible to win a new iPad just for downloading Articulate Studio), so you are not wasting their bandwidth or stealing from them in any way. It’s like the free samples in a supermarket: you’re not obligated to buy on the spot, but you might remember the product you tried a year later or recommend it to a friend. They don't mind if you don't buy.

If you insist on paying for everything that you try, I have just found two cheaper alternatives for your French storybook reading project:

1) GoAnimate, available for $58/month (personal use), simple-to-use animation software that does some rather remarkable things lon a low budget.

2) Even cheaper is Explain Everything, which has separate Android and iPhone versions for only ... $2.99! The Android version was launched 2 years after the iPhone version, so it is not quite as capable, but free updates are being made on a regular basis, so it’s worth a try. You can't go wrong for three bucks!
posted by juifenasie at 9:01 AM on July 7, 2014

If you're not familiar with the Shopkeeper Law, you can click on the transcript (the video used to be available for free on YouTube).
posted by juifenasie at 9:17 AM on July 7, 2014

I haven't tested this, but it looks like you can embed audio in ePub ebooks, and that works in iBooks.

The first thing I thought of was enhanced podcasts, but I think support for their creation and playback is on its way out.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:38 PM on July 9, 2014

I just saw this app review, which seems like it would be pretty perfect, if I am understanding all of your parameters correctly. (assuming you can use your wife's phone for this process)
posted by misterbrandt at 3:31 PM on July 10, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all for the interesting approaches. That seems like a lot of good options, and I bet one will work. I think my first effort will be with Pronoiac's audio ePub idea -- I like that it will be lightweight (text and audio only, no video) and I can author it on my laptop. Also that ePub is a widely-supported format.

Time to start playing around with it.
posted by bigjoec at 8:09 PM on July 10, 2014

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