I blogged about IPAnow!
a couple of days ago. The program is a wonderful tool that transcribes texts (Latin, Italian, German, French) into International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols by applying rules utilized by scholarly lyric diction textbooks.
Since then, I had the opportunity to have an email exchange with Kelly Turner, the creator of IPAnow!.
Why did you develop on the iOS platform?
As you know, I made the Windows app back in 2008, and since that time I've been very busy with school, work, and family, and just haven't had time to put anything more into IPANow!. But I kept getting requests for a Mac version and finally got an iPhone myself about a year ago and realized the potential there. I figured a lot of those people out there wanting a Mac version would probably also have iPhones and iPads too (since those are such hot tech items these days) so in October 2011 I decided to shoot for the iOS platform first before Mac OS. I hired a freelance iOS developer to work on the project with me. I came up with the basic user interface (which is admittedly very simple), and the developer's job was to translate (I think the correct word is "port") the original Windows code (VB6) for each transcription engine into Objective-C, which is what iOS utilizes.
Will there be updates?
I already have ideas for how I want to enhance it for 'version 2'. I wanted to squeeze all of those ideas into the first release, but I reached a point where I realized that if I tried to do all of that I'd NEVER get them released. So I had to draw the line somewhere.
Some of my ideas for the next version of the apps include the ability for the user to email transcriptions DIRECTLY from the apps without having to copy/paste to the mail app, user control over the font size of the transcriptions, better vertical alignment between each word and its corresponding transcription, and the ability to enter text in landscape mode on the iPhone. I also envision some sort of IPA editor module that would allow users to make manual edits to transcriptions within the apps. The first thing on my list, however, is an app for English IPA transcription. I've had a lot of requests for that.
Is there anything different between the iPad version and the Windows application?
One thing that is DIFFERENT from the Windows app is that they use Unicode fonts to display the phonetic symbols instead of the IPA-SAM fonts used in the Windows app. This was a tough call for me because I like the IPA-SAM fonts, but those fonts are becoming very outdated and they make it difficult for "sharing" with others since you have to have special fonts installed for the phonetic symbols to display correctly. The downside of the Unicode fonts is that they're not as keyboard-friendly.
Will there be a desktop version for the Mac?
Absolutely! In fact, the hard part--translating from VB6 to ObjC--is already done. The computer code for the transcription engine in the iOS version is exactly the same as for Mac OSX, as I understand it. So all that really has to happen is to create the user interface for Mac! I think my next project, however, will be an app for English. I've already done a lot of the prep work for that, and the user interface is already designed since it would be identical to the existing iOS apps.
Do the apps ever make a "mistake" in their transcriptions?
The transcriptions produced by the apps are really quite accurate--I'd say about 99% accurate. That being said, they do contain the occasional "mistake." It's just inevitable. First of all, not everyone agrees on the "correct" pronunciation of a given word and the "correct" phonetic symbol to use. There are certainly disagreements among professionals about open and closed vowels in the Italian language. Second, there just isn't a way to capture every single pronunciation exception in each of these languages. Think about all of the exceptions associated with French liaison, for example. Third, it's impossible to capture the pronunciation nuances that may be affected by the musical setting of the text. Thus, I want users to understand that they should view the raw transcription output of these apps as a starting point. My hope is that this product saves users a great deal of time by taking care of the "grunt work" of adding phonetic symbols one by one. Users can still have complete artistic control over the final output if they choose.