There is a positive side effect to all the personal assistant related improvements on Android. Text To Speech (TTS) has improved a lot to support this voice based personal assistants on phones.
I am a huge beneficiary of this change. Allow me to explain.
I used to read a lot. At least when I was in college. I still have a lot of books that I want to read and a lot of topics that I want to follow online.
The thing is, I have a 4 year old daughter, a full time job, couple of blogs and a regularly contribute to Google Product Forums. Between all these, I don’t have much time to spare for reading.
However, towards the end of 2016, I got this from my favorite reading app, Pocket:
I also read a few books from Google Play Books app in 2016. How did all that happen? Android’s Text To Speech.
Pocket and Google Play Books both support TTS. That means, you can listen to books and articles, without paying that premium price for audio books.
Audio books are really good and TTS is no match for it. However, TTS is not bad either. It might take a while for you to get used to that mechanical voice, but after you do that, things are much better.
Pocket app has some additional controls when you are listening to articles. You can change the voice, (American English or UK English etc) and even adjust the playback speed.
Both Google Play and Pocket apps gives you forward and backward buttons that lets you replay the previous sentence, or go to the next one respectively.
Not all books can Google Play Books app have the “Read aloud” option. You can however check this before buying or downloading the sample.
Under ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, click Read More and look for Read Aloud. If you see “Available on Android devices” you can listen to that book using TTS.
I listen to books and articles while walking, while doing the dishes or cooking. I usually listen to books when I can spare more than ten minutes. If it is less than ten minutes, I pick up articles.
This is extremely useful if you are a slow reader. I have friends who finish reading a book in two or three days. I am not like that. I tend to read very slow. I tried speed reading training, and that did not work for me. With TTS however, I cover 40 pages per day on an average.
I listen to books while having breakfast in office. Listen to articles during my quick tea breaks.
If you have enough time to read books that you have in your to-read shelf, and you read at a decent pace, I recommend you continue with your current setup. However, if you are struggling with time or speed, give this a try.