Using Google Reader Audio & Google Read
Google has had multiple text to speech (TTS) software options throughout the years, including apps and web browser extensions, that allow you to have any web page converted into audio to be read aloud to you. This is including blogs, textbooks, online course material and websites, fan fiction, and publications. Unlike Google’s text to speech services, Speechify allows you more high-quality customization and has the ability to tailor more to your needs. Speechify also allows you to upload hard copies of books and textbooks to be turned into audiobooks.
Overview of Google’s Read Aloud text-to-speech options
Google has several text to speech options that allow Google to read text out loud and is available for multiple user options including Google Chrome extensions and plugins, use with Google apps, and on android and iOS.
Google Chrome extensions/plugins
Google Read Aloud
Google Read Aloud is a web browser extension that allows you to choose from a variety of voices including those provided natively from the browser and from text to speech cloud service providers such as Google Wavenet, Amazon Polly, IMB Watson, and Microsoft, though some of the cloud-based voices may require additional in-app purchases to enable. Read Aloud supports 40+ languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese. Google Read Aloud can be used to read pdf files, Google Docs, Google Play books, Amazon Kindle, and EPUB(via the EPUBReader extension). Read Aloud is available as a Google Chrome Extension, simply go to the chrome web store and install it. This will allow you to navigate any web page and have the text you want to be read aloud. Google Read aloud in an open-source project. To use Read Aloud to read a webpage aloud, navigate the webpage you want to read and click the Read Aloud icon on the Chrome Menu. Read Aloud also allows you to use shortcut keys, such as ALT-P, ALT-O, ALT-Comma, and ALT-Period to play, pause, stop, rewind, and forward.
ChromeVox is a built-in screen reader available for Chromebooks. This built-in program was created to allow people with vision impairments to use the Chrome operating system and Chrome browser. ChromeVox can be turned on or off from any page. On desktops or Chromebooks, press Ctrl + Alt + Z. On tablets, hold the volume down + volume up buttons for 5 seconds, there will be a sound to indicate that it’s working and ChromeVox will start speaking. You can listen to full pages or selected text from web pages. To have full pages read out automatically
Go to Settings
Click the Accessibility section and select Manage Accessibility features
Under “Text-to-Speech”, turn on Enable ChromeVox
To listen to select text or part of a page you will need to turn on Select-to-speak
Go to Setting
Click Accessibility and select Manage accessibility features
Under Text-to-Speech turn on Enable select-to-speak
When Select-to-Speak is enabled, at the bottom right of the screen near the time, select Select-to-Speak then drag your pointer over the area of text you want to be read aloud to you. If you’re using a tablet or touch screen, tap a line of text or drag your finger over an area of the screen. Your Chromebook will read the section aloud and each word will be highlighted. To stop Select-to-speak while it’s reading you can either select Stop or press the Ctrl key. You can also pause, play, adjust speed, and skip lines of text with navigation controls. Chrome also has an OCR ability in which you can screen record or take screenshots to extract and translate text.
Android and iOS
Google Read Aloud is now available as an app for Android devices in the Google Play Store. Speech Services is another app that Google has developed for Android operating systems that uses Google’s Speech-to-Text functionality and allows applicants to read aloud the text on the screen with the support of many languages. It may be used by apps like Google Play Books for reading aloud, Google Translate for reading aloud translations and providing insight on the proper pronunciation of words in different languages, as well as Google TalkBack or other accessibility-based apps. Another more restricted option for Android devices is Google Assistant. When you have a web article open in your browser you wish to be read aloud, say “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google read this page” and the content of the web page will be read aloud immediately.
As of right now, there are no apps through Google or Google Chrome for iOS devices. This is because iOS has its own operating system and its own TTS technology and options. To use any of Google’s TTS technology on an iOS device you will have to use it via a web browser extension through a web browser app such as Google Chrome and Firefox.
Google Reader Audio vs Google Read Aloud
Google Reader Audio was an RSS/Atom feed aggregator that was shut down in 2013 due to declining use and popularity and Google wanting to focus on other departments. Google then launched their Google Read Aloud chrome extension that is now available through the Google Playstore for Android devices as an app. Read Aloud was created with the intention to be used by those who prefer to listen to content instead of reading, users with dyslexia or other learning disabilities, and children who are learning to read.
Alternatives to Google Read Aloud technologies
Despite the variety of options for text to speech through Google, not all of them are streamlined to be used from any device on any platform and they occasionally require add-ons to function optimally, making it so you need to use one TTS program for a web page and a different one for an app on your device. For a better, more user-friendly, all-inclusive experience, you can use Speechify. Speechify is a text to speech (TTS) technology that allows you to have any text read aloud to you, and is streamlined to work smoothly with most operating systems and can be used on any app and web browser. With Speechify, everything is an audiobook. You can use the TTS Chrome extension, iOS app, and Android app seamlessly with Google Docs and almost any text you see, read aloud your emails and documents in natural-sounding voices, and listen everywhere you go, allowing every web page or document to be a podcast. Speechify allows you to increase your reading speed by adjusting the listening speed to up to 9 times faster than the average reading speed, as well as to choose a voice that best suits you including both male and female voices. Speechify has the option for 30+ languages with multiple reading voices available for each language. What puts Speechify ahead of other TTS software, is its streamlined ability to turn any hard copy book into audio files to be listened to as an audiobook. All you have to do is scan in any physical text using your camera and upload it to the speechify app for it to be read aloud immediately. Speechify was created by Cliff Weitzman for people with learning disabilities like dyslexia, allowing them to listen to the textbooks assigned to read in school, and through that allowing millions of people to function in school and society.
Try Speechify for a more streamlined and user-friendly text to speech experience.
What is the Google Read API?
Google Read has an easy-to-use API called Text-to-Speech that allows you to synthesize natural-sounding speech to create lifelike interactions across many applications and devices. Google’s API is used for most of their text to speech software including ChromeVox, Read Aloud, Google Assistant, and any other software operated by Google.
How do I find out what Google is currently reading?
To find where on your page Google Read Aloud is currently reading, on the toolbar go to the Options page by right-clicking the Read Aloud icon and choose Options or by clicking the Gear button on the extension popup. Under “Voice Highlighting”, click yes, then click “Save” to save your options. When clicking play to have the page read out to you, the text that is being read with be displayed. If you are using ChromeVox, each word will be highlighted as it’s spoken. To enable this option,
Go to Settings, select Advanced
Select Manage accessibility features
Under text to speech turn on select to speak
Select open Select-to-Speak settings
Under highlighting you can choose between “Highlight each word as it is spoken” or turn on “Shade background content” which will shade the whole screen except the text that is being spoken.
How do I change the voice that Google uses to read aloud to me?
To change the voice that Google uses to read aloud, go to the Options page by right-clicking the Read Aloud icon and choose Options or by clicking the Gear button on the extension popup. In there you will be able to select which voice you prefer by clicking the “Voice” drop down. After choosing your options, click save.