Lately, I’ve been really into listening to as much content as possible. In addition to podcasts, web pages, and audiobooks, I started listening to PDF documents these days.
iOS native text-to-speech (TTS) feature is fine for a short text but isn’t great for PDFs. So I started searching for an app that suits my need.
Trying Out Four Apps
At first, Capti Voice app seemed to be very promising. But after I used it for a few days, I found the rich text mode (free version) to be buggy with PDF documents. I tried the original layout mode with a free upgrade trial and it worked okay.
Then I tried NaturalReader. I didn’t have much to complain about this one, but I wasn’t convinced enough to upgrade to the paid version.
The next one was vBookz PDF Voice Reader. Similar to NaturalReader, this is also a solid app with basic features for reading PDF files. If you like following the text while it’s being read, this app has a nice text mode that makes it easy.
Then finally, I read several good reviews about Voice Dream Reader and decided to purchase it.
Winner: Voice Dream Reader
I immediately liked Voice Dream Reader. Things I liked:
- The navigation control is much easier than other apps
- Lots of shortcut gestures
- You can add custom pronunciation of words/phrases via the dictionary feature
- In addition to iOS system voices, you can add one of the voices provided by Acapela/Ivona/ NeoSpeech comes with the app for free
- The app is stable; no annoying issues like skipping to random locations
I wish it had a free trial version, but other than that I have no complaints.
For Free: Capti Voice
Even though I wasn’t happy at all with the unsteadiness of the app’s rich text mode, I think it’s an okay solution for someone who is looking for a free PDF reading app.
Voice Dream Reader (English/Spanish/Japanese) – my own demo!
Capti Voice (official video)
NaturalReader (user video from 2016)
vBookz PDF Voice Reader (official video)
The table below is best viewed on a wide screen.
|Voice Dream Reader||Capti Voice||NaturalReader||vBookz PDF|
|Price||$13.99||$1.99/month, $9.99/6 months, $17.99/year||$9.99||$4.99 (per language)|
|Voice upgrade||1 free credit, additional voices are $1.99-$4.99 each||$1.99-$4.99 each||n/a||n/a|
|Text search||✅||Upgrade plan only||n/a||n/a|
|Bookmark||✅||Upgrade plan only||✅||✅|
|Fine speed control (WPM)||✅||✅||n/a||✅|
|Visual book cover||✅||n/a||✅||✅|
|Table of contents||✅||n/a||Partial support||n/a|
|Other versions||Android||Desktop browser, Chrome extension||Android, desktop browser, desktop app||n/a|
|Pros||Stable, feature-rich, easy navigation||Free version & upgrade trial, OCR option||Relatively easy-to-navigate, stable||Relatively cheap, wide font selection for text mode, stable|
|Cons||No free trial||Rich text mode (free version) is unstable, navigation is awkward, sync with desktop is very slow||Limited free version||Very limited free version|