It’s been 12 years since Apple trademarked the phrase “There’s an app for that” to show us the myriad of apps they had available on their store. Then there were a paltry thousand or so. Now they’ve got over 1.96 million apps. App developers have become a business genre and a large percentage of those apps come with embedded voice over. Before we talk about some of the myriad voice over in apps types out there, we need to talk about just how ubiquitous they have become in general.
In 2020, there were 218 billion app downloads. 218 BILLION. That’s a large amount of opportunities for voice over. Users worldwide spent $19 billion on the App Store in 2020. $9 billion more than the $10.3 billion they spent in Google’s Play Store. Needless to say, apps are big business and here to stay. So what does that mean for voice over? Let’s take a little genre stroll…
Love characters? Animation? Console and computer games? Well gaming apps are right up your alley. There are too many games to count. Some use voiceover for sounds and “speech-like” noises (ala Best Fiends), but many have elaborate scripts. My voiceover friend Michelle Blenker created several of the characters in Mansions of Madness – games like these are the perfect outlet for voice over actors who love bringing characters to life.
I’ve lost track of the number of meditation apps I’ve voiced, and I’m often not told who the end user or what the title is, but one of the big names was Bose for their Health division. These apps generally look for voice over deliveries that are calming and soothing. But that doesn’t mean uninteresting! Yes, the objective is to quiet the mind and direct meditation, or calm and soothe a listener to guide them into sleep, but the performance should still be meaningful and representative of the script. The point is to guide, not to bore.
An NDA prevents me from revealing the name of the kids bedtime story app I narrated. But there was over 40 hours of content in this and it was a sheer delight to record. I kept picturing reading to my own kids when they were 4 or 5 years old. For anyone who loves children’s books, or reading in general, storytime apps are a wonderful source of lovely material that needs narration.
Voice Over in Apps for Kids
There are lots of apps geared toward children. Both for entertainment and for education. Feelu – an app I voiced is intended for parents and kids on the spectrum to help identify and manage emotions. Another fun holiday app I voiced is The North Pole – with stories and activities for kids to interact with Santa’s workshop leading up to the big day. My friend Shelley Avellino has also done lots of app work for child themed audiences, including the voice of a parrot and other characters on the UK Tales of Gigi and Papumba. Often these apps are very interactive and the narration is substantial to cover every possible response to keep the game moving.
Health Care/Medicine/Hospital/ Apps
As with a number of things, Covid brought in a slew of quick to market apps in the healthcare space – I voiced some of the embedded language in a covid clinical app product as well as instructions on how to use it. As the world evolves to permanently include TeleHealth and other remote forms of healthcare communication, this genre is only going to grow and become even more interactive. Often medical narration for apps like other medical narration needs to be authoritative but reassuring.
Let’s face it, it’s a global world. And more and more people want to be able to navigate in it. DuolIngo – a voice language app – is among many options for rapidly learning new languages and conversational skills. I’ve worked on their learning English as a second language, and literacy apps. This is a great opportunity for bilingual voice talent, especially those that can remove dialect from the languages they speak. Neutral accents are useful for learners of all languages.
Anyone need to get rid of the Covid 19-25? Now that the world is slowly starting to inch our way out into the sunlight, exercise apps are going to continue to grow. From companion apps to at-home workouts, more and more people are looking for apps with varied exercise routines that can help get them moving again. Extra points if they can watch from their phone and work out anywhere. The narration of these apps should be upbeat, encouraging and fun – like my friend Dervla Trainor, (co-founder of VO NOrth) who was contracted to be Alley, the voice of the Fitness Ally app.
Voice Over in Apps for Cooking
The first app I ever recorded was in conjunction with Ubisoft and was hours and hours of recipes for a program called My Cooking Coach. This actually predated the invention of the app, but was created in the same style and was available on the now obsolete Nintendo DS. As a matter of fact, I learned I booked that job because of hundreds of auditions, mine was the only voice that came across clearly over the muddy DS speakers. Which is something to keep in mind when voicing apps for activities such as cooking. Your users are usually not just sitting in front of their phones, watching you, but rather moving about their kitchens, following your instructions. So make sure you can be understood from across the room. That doesn’t mean LOUD, it just means articulate clearly and keep pace in mind for more complex and involved steps in the recipes.
Beauty and Wellness Apps
Along with meditation, sleep, and fitness apps, beauty and wellness apps have exploded in recent years. As more and more focus is given to overall wellness, this genre won’t see a slow down any time soon. The opportunities for narration that is encouraging, calming, reassuring and inspiring abound, as another voiceover colleague, Diana Birdsall, can attest after she voiced several hours of the Health, wellness, Meditation, sleep stories in The Fabulous app.
There are many travel apps describing the where/what/when/how of travel. Some are extremely educational and entertaining. I was thrilled to be one of the first voices on the HearHere app, co-founded by Kevin Costner. With this app loaded on your phone, you can hear bits of Americana, stories and legends of areas across the US as you drive from place to place. Tied into your GPS new stories become available as you cross state lines and drive from place to place.