The microphone is the big new feature. We also adjusted the colours and layout. These updates were released on the 19th of November 2014, for both PBPhonics 1 to 3 and PBPhonics 1 to 7.
(If you are wondering what PBPhonics is, you can find a description on the PBPhonics page.)
Because iOS tries to protect you from inadvertent privacy breaches, apps that use your microphone must first ask permission. So, the first time you launch PBPhonics after the 2.0 update, you will see this:
You will never see this message again unless you reset your device’s privacy settings. You can still change switch this permission on or off by opening the “Settings” app, selecting “Privacy” → “Microphone” and adjusting the switches there.
If the microphone is not allowed, or switched off within the PBPhonics configuration screen, PBPhonics will behave much as before.
Should I worry about my microphone privacy?
PBPhonics clearly indicates when it is recording, as explained below. The resulting files are only stored for long enough to play them, and are then deleted. Recordings made by PBPhonics are never transmitted elsewhere.
Where can I find the microphone button?
If the microphone is allowed and switched on, it will appear after a you hear a word for the first time.
How do I make a recording?
Once the microphone button appears, tap on it once to start recording.
How do I stop recording?
Recording should stop automatically a few seconds after you finish speaking. In very noisy environments, you may need to tap the microphone button a second time. However, the recording quality will be poor in such conditions.
Why does the PBPhonics version of the word play instead of my recording?
Wait for the playback to finish. By default, PBPhonics plays its recording, then yours, then its own a second time. This is PBPhonics → Yours → PBPhonics mode. You can change this sequence to Yours → PBPhonics → Yours in the Microphone settings.
What do the symbols on the microphone button mean?
Inactive: tap on the button to start recording.
Recording: speak while the microphone shows this symbol. Tap again to stop recording.
Storing: the recording has been made, and PBPhonics is playing its feedback sequence. Wait and listen.
Playing: the recording you just made with the microphone is being played back.
Why do I hear a loud buzz in my recording?
PBPhonics amplifies your recording to the same level as its own. This will also amplify the background buzz. Try sitting closer to the device as you speak, or use an external microphone.
Does PBPhonics evaluate my recording?
No. Speech recognition algorithms are not yet sophisticated enough to judge pronunciation quality. This is why PBPhonics provides feedback by playing its own sounds in sequence with the recording.
PBPhonics until version 1.5 had a colour scheme in shades of blue and purple. This was adequate but lacked contrast, especially between pressed buttons and speaking buttons. The addition of the microphone button made these states especially significant.
The background hue and saturation were also chosen to match the default title bar tint on iOS versions up to 6. This never mattered much anyway; the statistics provided by iTunes suggest that most people download and use PBPhonics on iPads, which had paler title bars. This colour disappeared altogether with iOS 7, which favoured white title bars.
We chose a more saturated blue background, with brown buttons. These didn’t mesh very well until we also added thin shadows underneath.
The screen layout also tried to maximise the amount of space taken by the buttons. This made for cluttered screens, and even on small devices this wasn’t necessary. (If you tap near but not on a button, PBPhonics will highlight the nearest button anyway.)
One final change is that PBPhonics now animates for about a second immediately after launch, instead of flipping from its launch picture to the phonemes selection. This has a purpose, too: to suggest the order of the 7 (or 3) groups of phonemes.
Write them in the comments below or to Cowirrie Support.