The VoiceOver option found under the Accessibility menu in iOS might have the primary purpose of helping the visually impaired, but a lot of other people use it due to the convenience and freedom it brings to the table. One annoyance in using this feature with typing is that you have to type a whole sentence and then select it to make your iPhone read it out loud. A new Cydia tweak called Speaking Keyboard rectifies this by adding text-to-speech to the equation, speaking everything you type, so you don’t have to look at the device’s screen constantly. The tweak goes a step further and can be configured to speak separate words (complete with spellings, if you want) or entire sentences. The best part is that you don’t even have to select anything for it to work; Speaking Keyboard speaks as you type.
Speaking Keyboard is so non-intrusive that it makes no changes to the keyboard; you won’t find a separate app icon for it either, since everything related to it can be configured from the stock Settings app. In the Speaking Keyboard menu, there are options for toggling the tweak on, selecting its mode of operation and testing the whole setup. Following are the three available modes.
- Spelling: Every keystroke you make is spoken by Speaking Keyboard. Alphabets are spoken before a word is complete but once you hit the space bar, the full word is spoken as well.
- Chat: The words aren’t spelled out, but each word is spoken whenever you hit the space key.
- Conversation: The passage is only read out loud when you hit the return key, so the tweak’s voice won’t disturb you after each word or sentence. The developer of the tweak suggests this mode for social apps and texting. Conversation mode is also suitable if you want to use Speaking Keyboard for a relatively long period of time.
The text field provided in Speaking Keyboard’s menu can be used to get familiar with each of these modes. Regardless of the mode you choose, Speaking Keyboard works in all areas of iOS where the stock keyboard comes up.
The tweak can get even better if the developer adds a toggle in the keyboard, since a lot of people are likely to want Speaking Keyboard activated only occasionally. Still, for a tweak that costs $1, Speaking Keyboard is pretty good at what it does. You can grab it from the BigBoss repo of Cydia store.