Umano, an app that provides commuters (and others) a curated selection of articles read by voice actors, launched a few months ago on the iPhone. Now it’s available to Android users, too.
It seems pretty inevitable for a mobile app to go cross-platform, especially since it was created by former Googlers. But Ian Mendiola, co-founder and CEO at Umano-maker SoThree, said he realized that Android should be a priority after a marketing stunt where team members boarded Caltrain (that’s the commuter rail running between San Jose, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco) with fliers promoting the app, and they saw that many of the interested users owned Android phones.
The content is the same in both versions of the app, with about 20 articles selected each day by the Umano team and read by voice actors (so it sounds like a real news broadcast, not a robotic text-to-speech translator). It’s divided into six categories: Entertaining, Must Know, Geeky, Entrepreneurial, Inspirational, and Scientific. Mendiola said he was particularly impressed by the popularity of self-help content. The company doesn’t have a relationship with any of the publishers, he added, but it hasn’t received any complaints, and “if content owners would like their content taken down we’re happy to work with them.”
The Android app includes some platform-specific features, including Google+ integration and rich notifications, allowing users to access playback controls directly within their app notifications. There are, however, some features that haven’t made the transition to Android yet, including the ability to create playlists (so you can create a list at the beginning of your commute, then just let it run as you drive) and download content for offline listening — adding those features to Android is the company’s next goal, Mendiola said.
The team has bigger goals, too. Mendiola said he wants to add more personalization to the app, so that it can create an automatic playlist based on your interests and the length of your commute. He also wants to “open up more of a voice actor marketplace,” so actors could visit the site and upload their own recordings, rather than waiting for an assignment from Umano.
You can download the Android version of Umano here, and the iPhone version here.
Update: And here’s an Umano-fied version of this post.