Text-to-speech isn’t a new thing. It’s been around for a long time. In fact, it might surprise you for how long. Learn everything you need to know and then try it free!
Text to Speech has been around for a long time. It certainly will surprise many. Ready? It’s been around since the late 1950s, originating from Japan.
Well, if you want to get technical, humans have been trying to get machines to emulate human sound since 1003 A. D., but we’re more focused on text-to-speech; as in the simple process of using AI to convert words into speech.
What is text to speech (TTS)?
Text-to-speech goes by a few names. Some refer to it as TTS, read aloud, or even speech synthesis; for the more engineered name. Today, it simply means using artificial intelligence to read words aloud be; it from a PDF, email, docs, or any website. There isn’t a voice artist recording phrases or words, or even the entire article. Speech generation is done on-the-fly.
And that’s the beauty and the usefulness of it all. You don’t have to wait. You simply press play and artificial intelligence makes the words come alive instantly, in a very natural sounding voice. You can change voices and accents across multiple languages.
If you’re already thinking this is great, you’d rather try it right now, go ahead. It’s free to try Speechify.
How does AI text to speech technology work?
It generally works by installing a text to speech converter like Speechify either on your device or as a browser extension. AI scans the words on a webpage and reads it out loud, without any lag. You can change the default voice to a custom voice, change accents, languages, and even increase or decrease the speaking rate.
AI has made significant progress in synthesizing voices. It can pick up on formatted text and change tone accordingly. Gone are the days where the voices sounded robotic. Speechify is revolutionizing that.
Once you install the TTS mobile app, you can easily convert text to speech from any website within your browser, read aloud your email, and more. If you install it as a browser extension, you can do just the same on your laptop. The web version is OS agnostic. Mac or Windows, no problem.
Text-to-speech is rapidly gaining traction. Medium offers TTS as a service on their website and app to their millions of readers (yes, they use Speechify to power this). Other large businesses like the news media & entertainment industry are beginning to offer speech as a feature on their websites.
Can I use text to speech online or is it an app?
It is both. Text-to-speech is a technology. You simply install the app on your device or if you’d rather use it on your laptop, then install it as a text to speech extension on either Chrome or Safari or online text to speech. Adoption on Firefox and Microsoft browsers as far as the speech web application is yet low.
Most apps convert text to audio in real time and reads the text aloud well as some allow you to download the audio files in various file formats.
But, are the text-to-speech voices natural-sounding?
Yes. AI and machine learning continues to make significant strides. If your last experience with any text to speech is a year old, then things have change significantly since then. What’s even more impressive is that these advances span multiple languages apart from just English. Portuguese, Italian, and others can be converted real-time to a very human voice with native sounding accents.
Who should use text to speech?
There are limitless reasons and use cases for TTS. Children pick up so much from listening (ask any parent) and unlocking the number of (quality) words a child can listen to holds tremendous potential in their development. College students, teachers, professors, parents, professionals, productivity enthusiasts, and those that are challenged with reading can benefit greatly as well.
For children and elearning
As children play, you could use TTS to read out their favorite book, or a school reading, or use it for more intentional times. With TTS, words are highlighted (think Karaoke) so your child could read and listen at the same time. This makes for greater retention as two senses are stimulated.
The web pages you allow your children to read come alive.
Parents can live an exhausting life sometimes. Work and personal life clash and there’s just no time. Text-to-speech enables parents to get more done, read those work emails, and even the ones from their child’s school much quicker as they multi task.
Parents can also turn their favorite text into speech and have it read aloud on those long road trips. Great for parents homeschooling their children.
For college students & professionals
Working on your PhD? In law school? Simply scan your reading and have it read aloud up to 5x the speed. Get more productive, retain, and understand more in a shorter amount of time.
Graduated law school? Passed the Bar? Writer, doctor, engineer, professor, or any profession that requires plenty of reading, TTS is a great tool to help simplify a productive life.
For the professionals who travel a lot, read any document, email, or book. Listen as fast as you can. Crush it.
The use-cases are limitless. Attorneys can read their case files much quicker. People in healthcare can listen much quicker and on the go. Teachers, editors, you name it. If your job requires you to read, text-to-speech can help.
For the hobbyists
Many people just want to unplug from a screen and listen to the latest news article. Text to speech software is a fantastic way to turn any PDF, email, or a physical document, into speech.
For dyslexia and other disabilities
Text-to-speech is great for those who face reading challenges such as dyslexia. Speechify, in fact, was founded to solve a very specific problem. Read Cliff’s story about how he, as a dyslexic reads 100 books a year!
People with TBI, ADHD, dry eyes, or any other illness that makes reading difficult can benefit from converting tex into speech on the fly.
Text-to-speech technology for the enterprise
Lastly, text to speech can be used for businesses that want to offer a premium digital experience to their readers. Medium offers text-to-speech free to their millions of readers. Their readers are more engaged, and reading time isn’t relegated to eyes on a screen. Readers can now take it to go, turning every blog or article into a podcast.
Your readers can enjoy your content even if their mobile device is in their pocket, bag, or purse.
Here are the 9 best text to speech apps
As of my last update in September 2021, I can provide information on some of the best text-to-speech apps available at that time. Please note that there might be new or updated apps that have since emerged.
Speechify Text to Speech
Speechify Text to Speech is a groundbreaking tool that has revolutionized the way individuals consume text-based content. By leveraging advanced text-to-speech technology, Speechify transforms written text into lifelike spoken words, making it incredibly useful for those with reading disabilities, visual impairments, or simply those who prefer auditory learning. Its adaptive capabilities ensure seamless integration with a wide range of devices and platforms, offering users the flexibility to listen on-the-go.
Cost: Free to try
Top 5 Speechify TTS Features:
- High-Quality Voices: Speechify offers a variety of high-quality, lifelike voices across multiple languages. This ensures that users have a natural listening experience, making it easier to understand and engage with the content.
- Seamless Integration: Speechify can integrate with various platforms and devices, including web browsers, smartphones, and more. This means users can easily convert text from websites, emails, PDFs, and other sources into speech almost instantly.
- Speed Control: Users have the ability to adjust the playback speed according to their preference, making it possible to either quickly skim through content or delve deep into it at a slower pace.
- Offline Listening: One of the significant features of Speechify is the ability to save and listen to converted text offline, ensuring uninterrupted access to content even without an internet connection.Highlighting Text: As the text is read aloud, Speechify highlights the corresponding section, allowing users to visually track the content being spoken. This simultaneous visual and auditory input can enhance comprehension and retention for many users.
Google Text-to-Speech is an intuitive text-to-speech engine that supports a wide range of languages and voices. Users can adjust the speech rate and pitch to suit their preferences. It also seamlessly integrates with other Google applications and services.
- Wide range of languages and voices
- Adjustable speech rate and pitch
- Seamless integration with Google services
Amazon Polly is a service by AWS that turns text into lifelike speech. It supports dozens of languages and a variety of realistic voices. It also allows users to store and distribute the generated speech.
- Lifelike and natural voices
- Supports a wide range of languages
- Capability to store and distribute generated speech
iSpeech is a high-quality text-to-speech app that offers a range of natural-sounding voices in different languages. It provides API access for developers to incorporate the service into their applications.
- Natural-sounding voices in various languages
- API access for integration with other applications
- User-friendly interface
TextSpeech Pro is a professional text-to-speech software that offers a range of voices and languages. It includes advanced features like voice modulation and supports various file formats for saving the generated speech.
- Variety of voices and languages
- Advanced voice modulation features
- Supports various file formats
Voice Dream Reader
Voice Dream Reader is a mobile app that offers high-quality text-to-speech capabilities. It supports a wide range of file formats and has a user-friendly interface. It also offers voice customization options.
- High-quality voices
- Supports a range of file formats
- User-friendly interface with voice customization options
Speakonia is a simple, user-friendly text-to-speech software that supports a range of voices and languages. It can read text from various file formats and allows users to adjust the speech rate and volume.
- Supports various voices and languages
- Reads text from different file formats
- Adjustable speech rate and volume
CereProc creates some of the most realistic and natural-sounding text-to-speech voices available. They offer a range of regional accents and languages. The software also allows for voice customization.
- Realistic and natural-sounding voices
- Variety of regional accents and languages
- Voice customization options
NaturalReader is a versatile text-to-speech app that offers a wide range of natural-sounding voices in various languages. It supports numerous file formats and includes a user-friendly interface.
- Natural-sounding voices in different languages
- Supports numerous file formats
- User-friendly interface
Please note that newer or updated apps might have been released since my last update, and I recommend checking for the latest reviews and features before making a decision.
Deploying Speechify takes minutes. Automate your speech. The heavy lifting and backend processing is done on our servers.
Imagine your visitors engaging with your content while grocery shopping, driving, or exercising. They don’t have to be locked in to a screen. Interested in the Speechify API or SDK? Contact us.
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If you’d like to try Speechify, it’s free. Try it now. Speechify has high quality, natural sounding voices and a great user experience. Getting started is easy, create an account, install the free text to speech app or extension, choose your voice and click play.
The natural-sounding speech, the user experience, and our customer experience makes us the #1 rated text reader app in the App Store.