How to get started with Google Text-to-Speech

You can listen to audio books and empower many apps to 'talk' to you with Google's nifty tool.

google text to speech
Credit: Derek Walter

Google’s text-to-speech tool is one of those under-the-hood capabilities that makes Android so powerful. It can enable apps to speak to you or read content aloud, which opens up lots of different possibilities.

For example, it powers Google Play Books’ ability to read and the accessibility features of Google TalkBack. As Google builds in more features and other developers tap into text-to-speech, you’ll definitely want to know what dials to turn.

In order to enable Google’s text to speech, go to settings > accessibility > text-to-speech output. Your manufacturer may have its own text-to-speech option, so you can switch over to Google’s here if you’d rather use that one. 

text to speech edit

Select Google text-to-speech engine from the options.

You can also select a different default language and download any of the growing number of languages (29 at last count).

You’ll also see a speech rate, which controls just how fast or slow your device will speak to you. When you slide the bar to the right, the speech rate will get noticably faster. If your volume is turned up, you’ll get audio feedback and be able to get a better idea at just how fast or slow you want it. 

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you get updates. Touch the settings dial and on the next screen check that auto-updates are turned on. You can also force updates over Wi-Fi and send anonymous usage reports so Google can improve the service.

text to speech options

Ensure that Google text-to-speech gets proper updates. 

Finally, it’s time to try some apps. Google Play Books will read some titles to you, and Google Play Newsstand will do the same with some articles. You can also try out the Talkback features on your phone or tablet to find out what it will say in regards to certain actions.

Accessibility still has a long way to go for those that need it, but this is one step in the right direction. 

This story, "How to get started with Google Text-to-Speech" was originally published by Greenbot.

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