Updates to Common Voice for iOS

Hi Common Voice Community,

As many of you know, we have historically maintained an iOS app for Common Voice on the Apple App Store. This application was created when we initiated the project because iOS browsers were not able to utilize the Mediarecorder standard WebAPI, permitting audio recording from a website. As of writing, this is still not possible, though we have identified a way to enable recording within iOS via the Safari browser.

To encourage and unlock further contributions to Common Voice, we have decided to decommission the current iOS Common Voice app and enable recording via Safari. This update has been informed over time by community feedback from various contributors and we’re excited to finally enable this level of experience parity for iOS. Below we’d like to outline next steps.

Decommissioning the iOS Common Voice app

The Common Voice iOS app was built early in the project in order to enable recording on iOS. As it became clear that this would not be possible without a dedicated standalone app, staff focus shifted to the website to ensure that support of the open, web based experience was our #1 priority. As a result, the app is now fully unsupported, and directs people away from the web-based mobile site. As feature improvements to the web based experience were made, the app has not kept pace and does not benefit iOS contributors. If anything it is causing more confusion and distraction than healthy contribution.

As the team doesn’t have the capacity to improve the iOS app, or review contributions to its code, we’ve decided to decommission it. This process has been initiated with our latest v1.26.0 release today.

Enabling recording for Common Voice via mobile Safari

It is the team’s goal to ensure the iOS experience is worthwhile for all visitors and contributors. Currently the website is best placed for that to happen. By decommissioning the app and directing all iOS traffic to the website, we ensure that contributors will continue to be able to validate voice clips on iOS devices and, starting with the latest v1.26.0 release, start recording. We have been actively working on integrating a MediaRecorder polyfill that will enable recording on mobile Safari, and we are continuing to investigate options for other browsers on iOS.

The team wants to be clear to current and potential technical contributors which platforms we support so that they can direct their efforts to where it’s most needed. By removing the app from our codebase, we will ensure that people are not spending their valuable time contributing to an experience we cannot fully support. Instead, mobile contributions will be steered toward improving the web based mobile experience, and its codebase, as a whole. We continue to welcome experimentation and community-generated ideas, especially around how to enable recording on other browsers on the iOS platform. It’s our hope that by removing the current, obsolete app we will also remove constraints on ideation in the mobile space.

Thanks as always for your thoughts, time and contributions!

Megan + the Common Voice team

2 Likes

When I currently visit the Speak part of the website with Firefox on an iPad mini, I get the message that the platform is not currently supported. I was expecting the phrase, “Please continue in Safari”.
Hasn’t this been activated yet?

@Fjoerfoks indeed it does, not sure how that snuck in. Thanks for the help with post-release QA! Have filed an issue here: https://github.com/mozilla/voice-web/issues/2709