I was searching for a more efficient way to absorb all of the material I had saved during the day while still fitting it into my hectic schedule. My bookmark section grows almost daily as I save articles I find on Medium (plus the occasional article from a major tech website). Only problem is that I don't have time to read them all. Even at the end of the day... I despise myself for it because I'm missing out on so many fantastic stories.
I was thinking about having someone read the papers to me if I couldn't read them myself... Perhaps an app? Is it possible to convert text to audio?
On the other hand, I also prefer to experience the story's feeling rather than listening to a robot read it. Every. Word. Is. Written. Separately. Without. An. Accent.
So, what's next?
Is there a solution?
I listen to a lot of podcasts, shows, and talks in the background as I work or walk to work, and I think it would be great if I could do the same with my saved Medium posts — listen to them as audio instead of reading them as text.
This feature's entire functionality could be managed inside the current mobile app. There is no need for a separate application.
How do you do it?
Let's look at the current Medium iOS app and the article information screen. Concentrate your attention on the white bar at the bottom of the page, which describes the features available for each post. There are icons for "bookmark," "like," and "share." What about adding another icon that helps you to listen to the article?
It blends in well with the app's overall design and the current user pattern of similar features being located at the bottom of the page.
If you want to listen to the post, simply tap this small icon to open the audio player, and that's all there is to it. Good luck with your listening!
Isn't it lovely? Now let's concentrate on the technical aspects...
There is no additional software needed.
You may be wondering where all of the audio content might be created, as well as what kind of text-to-voice software might be used in the background. Such activities, in my opinion, are unnecessary. Writers might record themselves reading their own work and provide it as an audio file with the storey.
Of course, you shouldn't feel obligated to provide an audio version of your post. In the current version of the app, once you've finished writing your post, you'll be asked to add a few tags to help readers find it. I believe now is the best time to request one more thing: a recording of your storey.
Users should not be forced to record something, but if they are, they may believe they are enhancing their readers' experience by encouraging them to consume articles in a different way.
I made a short mockup to compare the current version and my version to give you a better idea of how it might look:
I also attempted to create a recording screen using the same UI style and colours as the rest of the app. Again, the whole flow is consistent with the app's current style. It's close to inserting tags, which is something you can already do.
All you have to do now is activate the microphone and begin reading. I was also considering including some sort of indicator for highlighting words to aid in maintaining your story's rhythm and pace. But I wasn't sure if I was doing it correctly. Users can become confused if they lose track of this indicator, which could cause problems with their recording.
You can save your recording and return to the "publish" screen, which will be in a different (completed) state. You can see the tags you've chosen and connect the audio file you just created. If you've hit "publish," your storey will be published...
There are more options
Of course, this is just a simple idea that came to me in a matter of hours. Consider how many more items will be added in the future. To name a few, there are the following:
Playlists — It will be similar to the Spotify music playlists, but with articles queued up to be played.
Interviews (because two heads are better than one) — Medium has a plethora of interviews. It would be fantastic to be able to play them as well. It could also work the other way around: people could record interviews as audio and then write about them in posts.
Podcasts — These should be taken more seriously and expanded into their own Medium podcast segment. Podcasts are making a comeback, and it may be useful to have a single location where you can find great stories in both text and audio format. There's no need for a separate segment for this.
People who have trouble reading — Can't seem to get a grip on a storey? Just have fun doing it.
What about bedtime stories? — Before going to bed, some of us enjoy reading. To relax and fall asleep, some of us use meditation or nature sounds. But what about lying in bed and listening to Medium stories?
If you have any more suggestions? Please feel free to leave a comment :)
What are your thoughts?
Is it just me, or are you having the same issue? Please let me know in the comments section or in a brief response to this post. It'd also be fascinating to hear what the Medium team has to say. If they contact me, I'll keep you updated.
Did you find the reading enjoyable? You may be interested in my latest Instagram ebook, The Perfect Grid: A Creative's Guide To Instagram.
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Ales Nesetril is a UI/UX designer with a passion for minimalism and simplicity who is currently based in Prague and San Francisco for STRV.
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STRV is a top-tier, one-stop mobile app development shop with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Prague. It works with top-tier startups from Y Combinator and 500Startups, among others.