tech

How to make Google read out a story to you from your Android phone

It’s as simple as - Hey Google, read it. But there are some more features you must know. 

Google offers this option on Android users and all you need to do is pull up your Google Assistant when you see an article you want to be read out and ask the assistant to ‘Read it’ or ‘Read this page’ or ‘Read it to me’.
Google offers this option on Android users and all you need to do is pull up your Google Assistant when you see an article you want to be read out and ask the assistant to ‘Read it’ or ‘Read this page’ or ‘Read it to me’. (Pixabay)

Most of us read a lot of content online and while there is joy in that sometimes is joy in letting someone read it out for you. In this case, the someone is Google. Did you know that you can turn any text on the web into an audiobook?

Google offers this option on Android users and all you need to do is pull up your Google Assistant when you see an article you want to be read out and ask the assistant to ‘Read it’ or ‘Read this page’ or ‘Read it to me’.

Compared to Google’s older text-to-speech engine, what Google has on offer right now are very natural and capable of handling abbreviations like GB or mph. All you need to know to make Google read out the article to you is the voice command, however, there are more nuances.

When you use the voice command you are directed to a custom browser that’s been built for the reading feature. Here you will see the article in top two-thirds of the page and the playback controls at the bottom. By default, this custom browser automatically scrolls along as it is being read to you.

You can move back and forth with the rewind buttons and you can also adjust the reading speed down to a 0.5x or speed it up to 3.0x. There are options in the middle too, so adjust as you think best.

The three-dot overflow menu in the top right corner has more options there. You can pick between three alternative voices for reading - one female and two male. You can also turn off text sync if you don’t want the browser to scroll as the article is being read to you. The third option here is translation that can translate the text into or from 42 languages.

Thanks to the recent updates Google Translate has gotten, the translations are pretty spot on.

The best part about this ‘Read it’ is that you can turn off the display or open another app while the article is still being read. The feature functions like an audio player as it continues to read the article. You can pause, stop, move back and forth via a notification. When you tap on the notification you can also go back to the text as well if you want to get back to it.

However, there are limitations. This feature only works on Chrome or Chrome-based browsers. If you are using Firefox, you will need to copy and paste URLs to the Chrome browser. Also, Read It does not work on all apps and you might have to open the articles from those sites on the browser to be able to get Google to read them. That is primarily because developers have to add some extra code to support this feature.

The feature also can’t beat paywalls. IT is a separate browser with its own cookies, logins etc so you will also have to tolerate ads while you read and cookie privacy notifications.