iHear Network - If Only Tweets Could Really Talk
Tested version: 1.3.3
Latest version: 2.1.3
Requires Android: from 2.2
Twitter is a constant source of short yet extremely important information. The latest events in Egypt have shown us how people can rewrite history with the help of social networks. Twitter and Co. is a great tool, but it can also be used in other interesting ways. iHear Network is designed to deliver the latest information fresh off the Twitter "printing press". Find out what the app can do in our test.
Features & Use
Information and communication are crucial components of today's highly industrialized tech-savvy world. At this junction in history, Twitter appears to be playing a very big political and cultural role. iHear Network collects all of this information and organizes tweets by location.
iHearNetwork - Listen to what's being said
iHear Network let’s you hear what’s being said around you. The app does this by reading out the latest tweets in any given area on your Android phone via TTS (Test-to-Speech). Unfortunately, the audio voice sounds more like R2D2 than a real human being, but you can still switch between robotic American and British English (not that it sounds any less artificial). The voice’s volume can also be adjusted in the settings. A tweet disappears as soon as it is read, but iHear Network allows you to go back to previous tweets at any point.
It’s not difficult to find an interesting location to listen in on. Major events such as the revolution in Egypt and the Oscars are bound to provide fertile ground for a stream of interesting tweets. You can use Google Maps and its search feature to listen to any location in the world. As soon as you’ve zoomed in on a location, the robotic voice starts reading things out loud. Tweets are not the only thing the app spits out: sometimes it just begins reading random content that is completely unrelated to your location. Regardless of where you are on the planet, the app tends to only read English tweets, which isn’t going to be very helpful if you’re looking to hear what locals are saying.
Too much gibberish?
Despite the interesting concept behind it, iHear Networ tends to relentlessly read out random tweets. The tweets range from completed runs with Runkeeper to useless gamer tweets about winning an online game. Oh and did I forget to mention all the check-ins through services such as Gowalla and Foursquare? Yep, there part of the fun, too. It’s extremely annoying to put it mildly. iHear Network fails to filter out all the mundane useless information, leaving you with a sea of random and boring tweets. You can forget about trying to see what people are up to on Twitter in Libya during the revolution. The only positive side is that it’s possible find some interesting snapshots and links attached to some tweets.
- Listen to location-based tweets
- Nice design and easy controls
- Listen to previous tweets
- Great search feature (zoom-in to a specific street etc.)
- Lack of interesting content
- English-only tweets
- TTS voice too mechanic and unpleasant
- Starts reading automatically with no warning.
The idea itself is great, but the implementation is very questionable. The voice together with total amount of gibberish being transmitted is both irritating and useless. The app tends to work better with major event, but don’t be surprised if your ear has had enough after just a couple of minutes. The fact that the app starts up without any warning is a major fail on the developers’ part. Imagine iHear Network turning on in your pocket. Now that’s what I call embarrassing.
Screen & Controls
The developers did a great job with the design for iHear Network. The transparent-looking menu comes across as both classy and professional. In the notification bar, you can see all the read tweets and open any links that are attached.
Google Maps helps you navigate and allows you to find the closest pharmacy in your neighborhood. With the menu buttons, you can pause the voice and jump between different tweets. Using the like and dislike buttons you can let the app which tweets you find useful. Unfortunately, this user feedback isn’t being used properly to filter out the garbage.
Speed & Stability
iHear Network performed reliably when it's open. The only problem is that the app starts blathering without any warning! EPIC FAIL!
iHear Network can be downloaded for free from the App Center
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