Attending CodeMobile UK

From 18th to 20th April, I had the chance to attend the CodeMobile conference in Chester, UK. This was the first edition of the conference and in this post I will share my impressions of what was happening in those 3 days.

The organizers had the idea to have a conference in Chester, since there are not many developer conferences outside of London. Chester is a lovely town in north-west England, around 40 miles from Manchester. Getting there is pretty easy – we took the plane to Manchester and then the train to Chester, which was about an hour ride. The town itself has an interesting architecture, with bits of Roman influence.

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Text to speech with synthesizers

We’ve seen in the previous post how an iOS device can understand and transcript the voice commands we give to it (speech to text). In this post, we will see the opposite – how the device can communicate an information we have as a string in our app, with speech. We will extend the grocery list app from the previous post (make sure to check that one out first), by adding a functionality to tell the user what remaining products they need to buy from the list. We will also provide a way to customize the voice that will do the speaking, through a settings page.

In order to accomplish this, we will need a different class (AVSpeechSynthesizer) from a different framework (AVFoundation). As the Apple docs tell us, this class produces synthesized speech from text on an iOS device, and provides methods for controlling or monitoring the progress of ongoing speech – which is exactly what we need, so let’s get started!

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Exploring Conversational Interfaces

People and computers speak different languages – the former are using words and sentences, while the latter are more into ones and zeros. As we know, this gap in the communication is filled with a mediator, which knows how to translate all the information flowing between the two parts. These mediators are called graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

Finding an appropriate GUI can be quite a challenge – and it’s basically the key factor in determining whether your software would be used. If users don’t understand the interactions they need to do in order to get the most out of it, they will not use it. That’s why the GUIs must be intuitive and easy to learn.

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