UDPATE: 1 Aug 2022
Fix for Google Speech System faults in Android in 2022
Speaking Email and other apps were affected by some bugs introduced by Google into their speech engine earlier this year. This caused disruption for several months, which was especially problematic for blind users who rely on Speaking Email. We have finally found a workaround. The latest Android release of Speaking Email includes this fix.
Technical info about this in case other developers have this issue:
1 May 2022
Google Speech System faults in Android in 2022
If you are an Android user of Speaking Email, you may have encountered speech glitches over the past few months. We've had a number of users reporting these issues.
Google has released a string of buggy updates to the Android speech system which affect all apps that use speech on the device. The first buggy update was in Feb 2022 and the most recent on 17 May 2022.
Look out for the following symptoms:
1. a five-second delay between sentences during speech
2. when attempting to listen for voice commands Speaking Email stops immediately after starting
While this is very annoying, the good news is you can fix these issues by uninstalling the Google updates.
There are at least three Google apps which we have identified deploy new updates to the speech system and cause these issues:
1. 'Speech Services by Google' (previously called 'Google Text-to-speech Engine')
To uninstall the updates to these apps, look in your system settings under Apps, find the app, then find the 'uninstall' button, which may be under a dot-dot-dot menu. Once you have uninstalled these apps, Speaking Email will work correctly again.
We found this out from our users (thanks everyone for reporting the issues), reproduced the issues ourselves, and found many comments about this on the internet and Play store. On the Play store, the latest 'Google' app update 17 May 2022 relates to voice commands. Dozens of user comments state the latest upgrade has caused Google Assistant to stop working. Advice is to uninstall the update. Similar user comments exist on the 'Speech Services by Google' app, dating back to Feb 2022. And the 'Gmail' app has introduced Google Meet which uses speech features. Users have reported caused these same speech issues in Speaking Email, and have successfully got Speaking Email working again by reverting to an earlier version of Gmail.