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Listen Later Adds Features Requested by TidBITS Readers

Yalim Gerger of Listen Later, one of our current sponsors, recently shared some news. After we published “Text-to-Podcast Service Listen Later Sponsoring TidBITS” (11 March 2024), TidBITS readers made additional feature suggestions and bug fixes that he has now incorporated.

As a reminder, Listen Later enables you to submit messages (such as a TidBITS issue or other email newsletter), links to Web articles, text-heavy images, or PDFs by email to turn them into podcast episodes you can listen to in your favorite podcast app. It’s a compelling use of AI tools, which convert the text into a natural-sounding voice after pre-processing to remove unnecessary bits.

Thanks to your suggestions, Listen Later now provides a setting that adds outro music (licensed from a German composer) to the end of every podcast episode. It’s a minor tweak, but one that’s surprisingly welcome when you have several episodes queued up. It prevents your podcast app from jumping from the end of one to the start of the next with no pause, which can be disconcerting.

TidBITS readers also devised a clever workaround for the problem of Listen Later not being able to access text behind a website paywall. Instead of sending a link to the article, save the article as a PDF and send that to Listen Later. Creating a PDF is easy on the Mac, where browsers often have an Export as PDF option, or you can use File > Print and save as PDF. On the iPhone or iPad, the same trick works—when viewing the page, tap the Share button, tap Print, and in the Print Preview screen, tap the Share button again, but this time select your email app to create a new message with the PDF attached.

Workaround for submitting paywalled articles to Listen Later

Finally, a new Listen Later Extension for Chromium-based browsers makes submitting an article to Listen Later even easier. Once you add it to your browser and log in on the first usage, activating the extension sends the current page for audio conversion.

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Comments About Listen Later Adds Features Requested by TidBITS Readers

Notable Replies

  1. Forgive me for an OldGit™ comment, but I don’t understand the use case. By the time I have looked at an article to decide whether it’s interesting enough to listen (!!) to it later, I have already grasped it’s content. I then upload it somewhere, and download the resulting audio file in some queueing system (Podcast SW) where I can’t really see anymore what the article is about. Having it then read out to me seems to have limited entertainment value. Isn’t this a little bit too involved for hardly any gain?

    Sure, I get it, different people are different, but this is a mystery to me.

  2. It all depends on the length of the articles you want to read, how fast you read, and how you have time to consume content. It would be pointless to use Listen Later on a three-paragraph article you can finish reading as quickly as you can submit. But it might be more time-effective to convert articles that would take 15-20 minutes to read to audio so you can listen to them in the car on the commute home.

  3. Not supported by Spotify…

  4. Hello @jaxon,

    I’m the developer behind Listen Later.

    Currently, Spotify restricts the addition of podcasts via direct URLs. This approach contrasts with the open nature of podcasting, akin to a web browser that limits access to only pre-selected websites. This limitation can be quite restrictive for users seeking a broader array of content.

    Given this, I recommend exploring other podcast apps that support open access and allow for direct URL submissions. These platforms are more accommodating and align better with the open-system philosophy of podcasting.

    Thank you for your understanding.

    Best regards,

  5. Hello @mHm ,

    I am the developer behind Listen Later. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Indeed, Listen Later tends to resonate differently with people, broadly sorting them into two camps:

    1. Those who find great value in listening to articles.
    2. Those who prefer reading and might not see the appeal of an audio adaptation.

    For many, especially those with busy lifestyles, visual impairments, or those who regularly engage in activities like walking, jogging, or exercising, listening provides a convenient way to consume content. It allows them to enjoy articles without needing to focus their visual attention on text, which is perfect for staying informed or entertained while on the move. This is particularly beneficial during commutes, whether one is driving, taking public transport, or even biking.

    The process might seem a bit involved at first—selecting an article, sending it over, and then accessing it through a podcast app. However, Listen Later aims to streamline this by integrating smoothly with podcast platforms that allow easy organization and recall of what each episode is about, not unlike choosing music tracks by their titles.

    While it may not be for everyone, the flexibility to ‘read’ articles through listening is an invaluable tool for many. It turns reading time into an opportunity to engage with content hands-free and eyes-free, fitting seamlessly into daily routines such as commuting.

    I hope this explanation helps illustrate who might find Listen Later useful. Engaging with different perspectives like yours is invaluable as we continue to develop and refine our offerings.

    Best regards,

  6. Hello @yalim.gerger, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I have a rather large legacy Spotify collection of music playlists & preferences … and gather I’m not alone with my various gripes & grievances regarding their ways and methods.


  7. There are various services that allow you to transfer your playlists between streaming services. This is just the first one that came up when I searched:

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