Sep 302012
New iOS 6 features for users of Chinese

iOS 6 adds a number of features for Chinese users that are equivalent to features introduced to the Mac with OS 10.7 or 10.8. Siri Siri can now communicate in Chinese. You need to specify the language that you want to use with Siri in Settings > General >Siri. You can choose between Mandarin (mainland or Taiwan) or Cantonese. If you want to go back to English (or another language), you need to change the Settings again. The TUAW website has a list of commands for working with Siri in various languages; Chinese is way at the bottom. Here are some screenshots of me asking Siri about tomorrow’s weather and when my own birthday is. Text-to-speech iOS 6 can now read Chinese to you. Simply select the text that you want read and choose “Speak” from the menu. If you don’t see “Speak” in your menu, you may need to enable … [read more]

Jul 292012
OS 10.8 new and improved features: text-to-speech

Last Wednesday Apple released a new version of OS X (10.8, Mountain Lion) for the Mac, which includes several new and improved features for Chinese users. I say “for Chinese users,” rather than “for China” (the way Apple puts it), since these features benefit all users of Chinese, not just those who are Chinese. Our first topic is text-to-speech. Chinese text-to-speech was introduced in Mac OS 10.7 just about a year ago (see this post, where I predicted that this feature would get better). Now in 10.8, the two Mandarin voices Ting-Ting (China) and Ya-Ling (Taiwan) have been improved (there is also a Cantonese voice, Sin-Ji, that I have not tried). If you already downloaded the voices in 10.7, the improvements will come in a software update after you upgrade to 10.8. Note that if you did not install the Chinese voices under 10.7, you can get them by opening the System Preferences and … [read more]

Jul 222012
iOS reader (annotator) apps

OK, the last post probably should have been entitled “Pleco’s Reader Tool.” “Readers” (or “annotators”) are useful for students trying to read texts that are significantly above their current level of ability. Once you load in a text, you can get a definition and pinyin for each word/character simply by tapping on it. In this post, we’ll compare Pleco’s Reader with the iOS app HanZi Reader. Although both Readers do essentially the same thing, their implementations and features differ. Once again, the text in the images is an article from the Chinese edition of the New York Times. Text input Text can be entered in both Readers just by pasting it in; in fact this is the only way to add a new text to HanZi Reader, where you must create a new file, give it a title, specify whether the text is in simplified or traditional characters, and then tap … [read more]

Aug 042011
Chinese text-to-speech in Mac OS 10.7 Lion

Apple has long had text-to-speech built into Mac OS X. With OS 10.7, they’ve added voices for Chinese. The voices aren’t pre-installed on US systems, at least, but they are free downloads. Go to System Preferences>Speech. Pull down the “System Voice” menu and choose “Customize.” (Note that in the image below, I have already installed two Chinese voices; go to “Customize” at the bottom to install voices). Select the voice(s) you wish (China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are available for Chinese). Click the checkbox to “Speak selected text when the key is pressed.” (You can customize the keyboard shortcut for this if you wish.) Optionally, adjust the speed of the voice. A cool thing to do with this is to make audio files of texts (e.g., readings or dialogues from a textbook). The text-to-speech isn’t completely natural, of course, and nowadays most textbooks include audio in some format, but if you … [read more]