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Doing More With iPad

Free App Friday: Umano

If you are someone who drives a lot or has a long commute where you really have to pay attention on what is in front of you then you probably have a hard time keeping up with the latest news. Sure the radio will provide you with some great highlights of the news but they rarely have full in depth reports that some of your favorite blogs do. Don’t you wish there was a way you could still take in the information from high quality blog posts while traveling and paying full attention on what is in front of you rather than a screen.

Well maybe Umano can help.

What is Umano

Umano is an app for your iPhone (and android too) that gives you access to high quality recordings by professional voice artists reading some of the best blog posts from around the web. Sites like, lifehacker, the harvard business review, the atlantic, and more. This allows you to keep your eyes on the road (or the person in front of you on your commute) and yet still stay up to date with the latest goings on and learn more.

What I like

The app has a beautiful and clean interface, setting it up was really easy. With different channels (such as business, science, politics etc) you can get on the content that you want. You can also search different catagories if you want something from outside your normal listening patter or use the explore option to search for a specific topic. When you find something good you can add it to your playlist so you don’t have to listen to everything but carefully craft your playlist for your journey.

The voice artists are also of a high quality and Umano doesn’t just use one person to read their reviews, instead they have a variety of readers so you don’t just hear the same voice again and again.

What I don’t Like

Unfortunately for me I’m pretty much listened out on the web. With my podcast subscriptions and a short commute it really isn’t the app for me. Don’t get me wrong I love listening to content and it can be really great to get an alternative to reading a screen (I espeically like it at night as I find screen tend to keep me awake for longer) and I will use this app but just not all the time.

My only other complaint is with the set up, you are encouraged to sign up using Facebook. The reasoning being to encourage commenting on the differnet articles and seeing what your friends have listened to and like. However, not all of us want our social media profiles being used to sign up to these services. Admittedly you can sign up via email but this is the second option.

Buy/Don’t Buy

The App is free and the quality of the recordings and app are both very high. Even if you use it sporadically like me I would recomend it. However, you can also sign up for the premium service which adds in:

  • News Flash: Get a head start in the morning by listening to the latest breaking news headline
  • Offline Listening + Unlimited Playlist: Add as many items to your playlist as you want and enjoy them without an internet connection
  • Playlist Reordering: Customize the order that articles appear in your playlist
  • Auto- Playlist Magic: Only have time to listen to Umano for a set period of time? Umano can create a playlist for your time period based on your personalized interests
    Customize Jingle: You decide what sound you hear before an article starts playing. Choose from our library of jingles.
  • Sleep Timer: Enjoy falling asleep to Umano? Never miss an article again by selecting a timer for Umano to stop playing.

For either $3.99 a month or $23.99 a year so there is a buy or don’t buy dilema. For the way I use it, I haven’t found myself desiring these extra features…yet but I can certainly see why a user would want them.

Check out Umano on the App Store today.

About Chris Wilson

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