What I thought would take about 1 month to build, took about 4 months of dedicated work, pivoting some of my initial ideas, 160+ cups of coffee and a few mental breakdowns figuring out why a feature was not working as it should be. Overall, it was a very valuable experience!
But first, let me take a moment to thank the beta testers for providing me with feedback during development. This was really valuable and allowed me to focus more on what’s important for the users of the app. Thank you for your time!
Playpost is an app that allows you to build a playlist of articles (bookmarks) and then just listen to it using the highest quality voices generated by industry leading Artifical Intelligence. So the experience becomes similar to listening to a Podcast or an Audiobook.
The story behind Playpost
I’ve noticed there are more and more articles on the web — not necessary news articles — that allow you to learn something about a subject. Articles about tech, design, culture, science, self-development or business. Medium — and this article — is an example of this.
My initial goal was to listen to such articles using the highest quality voices available. So I can just press play, put my phone aside and listen to it when driving to work. I am a big fan of audiobooks, so this is a great way to get a similar experience.
When I figured out how to let article’s speak, I added support for many other Apps and websites. And also allow you to choose between a variety of the best Artificial Intelligence voices.
Playpost uses industry-leading Artificial Intelligence voices. Now, some of you might remember Microsoft’s “Sam”. Rest assured; it won’t sound like that. 20 years later the industry made groundbreaking improvements on how automated voices sound. If you are interested in how this all works, watch this video from Google about Google’s WaveNet. Google’s goal is to get the accents, languages, and dialects right. Globally, so not just for English.
Voice assistance like; Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa already use similar voices. That’s a reason why I think the timing of this App is perfect. These voices are already used around the globe and slowly people are getting used to interfaces that “speak” and the way they sound.
On our website, you can preview some of the voices. In our App, you can preview all the available voices.
But, using these voices comes with a cost and made me think about how to scale Playpost and generate enough revenue to support growth.
Playpost’s architecture is designed to be scalable. Both in terms of high traffic and new languages and voices. New voices could easily be added to Playpost within minutes. Voices from new external sources could be added within a few days. So we can always provide our users with the state of the art automated voices, whatever the source is, as long as it provides an API to talk to. And yes, this is an invite for companies offering automated voices to get into contact with me! To see if we can offer more voices to our users :-)
Free and paid options
Running an App with the architecture and features of Playpost comes with a cost. If we keep the App free, it will cost too much. Web hosting, databases, storage and text synthesizing isn’t available for free. That’s why I’m currently experimenting with 3 tiers in the Playpost App: Free, Premium and Plus.
Free is a good starter with the basic functionality; it will introduce you to how the App works with one voice. It allows you to store unlimited playlist items (bookmarks) and supports many languages. Premium and Plus give you access to the highest quality voices and be able to change them. So you can choose a male or female voice you like. With Plus you get even more audio minutes per month.
An Unlimited subscription option might be added later to allow unlimited audio minutes. But first, I play it safe to see where this goes and keep the costs of running this app in check with a “profit first” mentality. So the App financially doesn’t end up like Uber, which never made a profit and probably never will.
Let me know what you think
I’m really eager to get a lot of feedback about the App. This feedback helps me to improve it. So feel free to try it out and let me know what you think by contacting me at email@example.com.
Already used the App? Write a review on the App Store.