My Orator General FAQs

My Orator is a service that takes your saved articles and converts them into spoken text so you can play it on your phone or Amazon Echo.

Here are answers to a few questions I keep getting.

What was your motivation in making this? Who is the intended user?

I found myself getting distracted very easily with all the articles appearing on the bottom/left/right of any web article I read.

I also found that I focus much better while listening to podcasts. I also love the fact that my podcast player saves where I left off.

So I thought what if I can convert make these web articles into a podcast feed so I can listen to them in my car? What if I can play these articles on my Amazon Echo too?

So while I kind of made this for myself, I figured that there are others with the same frustrations. If you want to focus on articles you’ve selected or you just like making your own ‘mixtapes’ of articles, then My Orator is for you.

How does this actually work?

You sign in with your Gmail account, and send URLs to Orator’s email address (one URL per line).

You then listen on your podcast app (provided that it lets you add custom feeds — For Android users, I’d recommend Podcast Addict. For iPhone users, use SimpleCast or the default podcast player on the iPhone.)

Is this going to sound robotic?

I use the same technology as what Alexa uses (Amazon Polly) — it doesn’t sound as robotic as I expected.

How does this work with Alexa?

If you have an Amazon Echo, you can install the Orator skill with your Alexa phone app (search for “Orator” in the skills store). After you link your account, you can play the tracks by the title name — you can even play tracks by playlist! (just tag your articles first)

Is there support for Pocket?

If you link your account to Pocket, Orator pulls the articles that you’ve added in the last 7 days, then (going forward), it will listen on your Pocket list and add any article you save to Pocket.

How much does this cost?

Everyone who signs up gets 35 minutes of conversion for free with no credit card required.

I’m trying a pay per use model (rather than pay per month) — $10 for 10 hours of conversion, then auto-renewal of $5 for 5 hours once the balance falls below 35 minutes. Paid users get another 35 minutes for free.

I’ve been told that I could make more money doing different tier plans at a monthly rate, but I think pay-per-use is more fair.

Does Orator recommend articles?

No. I wrote this so that I could focus on articles in my queue without distractions — and that includes recommendations of “articles you might like”.

Does your service work with XYZ.com?/The article wasn’t read correctly, why?

The service should work for most URLs that are publicly browseable without a login.

If the article isn’t read correctly, it could be that the URL you submitted is behind a paywall. I can only guarantee that articles on Medium.com will work (the ones that aren’t members-only).

If there is demand, I can make a feature that will read text that you’ve submitted. Right now, a workaround would be to create an account on Medium.com, paste in your text, and convert the draft URL with My Orator.

What features do you plan to add in the near future?

  • Support for Instapaper.
  • Support for free-form text to speech.
  • Smarter processing of URLs that already contain audio files.

Do you have an Android/iOS app?

Not at the moment. For now, you’ll have to go to myorator.net on your mobile browser and add the website to your home screen if you want to edit your playlist.

Why do I have to use Gmail?

Because I’m lazy and I didn’t feel like implementing OAuth for other email services. I also didn’t want to store user/password information on my database and then have to verify that you own that email address.

Support for Google Home?

The Google Home API doesn’t have good support for playing audio at the moment, sorry.

Why does your UI look like crap?

Sorry, I’m not a UI guy and I don’t feel interested in learning UI stuff at the moment.

Why are you saying sorry all the time? Are you Canadian?

Yes, I am…. (sorry)