I tried Textcast tonight. It converts text to iTunes podcasts with OS X’s built-in speech synthesis, and it’s optimized for automatic conversion of RSS feeds. It’s a way for you to listen to content that you’d otherwise need to read, so you can consume it while walking, driving, etc.
The program still has a few rough 1.0 edges, but it’s very professionally done overall. I was mainly concerned about a much bigger problem: whether I’d be able to tolerate hearing content from fake synthesized robotic voices. I tested it with Fred Wilson’s Bits of Destruction post while walking to the train tonight, and my fears were mostly alleviated. I used the Alex voice at the second-fastest notch on the slider, making this post about 3 minutes long.
It’s strange, and it’s nowhere near as good as a human podcast or audiobook. I missed some words that didn’t get enough emphasis, and I found myself more easily distracted than usual because it was hard to get very engaged.
But it was interesting. It’s definitely worth the 7-day trial to see if you can get into it. I’m not sure if I’ll use it regularly, but it’ll be nice to have around.