Google recently announced a new feature coming to Google Assistant that will allow users to have their web pages read to them.
The feature will be available in 42 different languages (translating the page to a language before reading it out) and if you’re afraid of the robotic-sounding text-to-speech functionality offered by similar type features already in existence, Google says they’ve made their text to speech human-like:
Read it, is a new feature that will allow people to listen to web pages using text to speech. This (the feature) means that we can read long text in natural sounding voice.
…Today text to speech is produced using neural nets which is the tool we use for machine learning to specifically create voices that are fit for longform text to speech.
We look at 3 different parameters; stress, intonation and rhythm which we call prosody. This is what makes the voice sound more natural.David Kadouch – Product Lead: Research & ML at Google
To use read it (once its available) users will open a webpage in Chrome or Google News and then a “Hey Google, Read it” command will activate the assistant who starts reading the current web page.
The feature will also be available on most Android phones with support for devices running Android 5 and above.
In terms of improving accessibility, this is a crucial feature which will improve the smartphone experience for people with visual impairment and blindness.