Found an interesting article you’d like to read but too tired right now or busy doing something else? You could save it for later or ask your Google Assistant to read it to you instead. This way you won’t risk forgetting about it afterward.
The feature was recently introduced. Google explained that the technology is different from other screen-reading software, as it’s capable of reading text in a natural-sounding voice and cadence so that people won’t have trouble listening and understanding, even for longer periods of time.
Google’s virtual assistant is available on most Android phones, so if you’d like to hear it read out to you, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps.
Note: so far the feature is meant for listening to articles, blog posts, or short stories online.
Set Up the Voice Match on Your Device (If It’s Not on Yet)
To check if your Google Assistant is already active and ready on your device, touch and hold its Home button or say “OK Google” or “Hey Google.” If nothing happens, it means you’ll need to manually turn on Voice Match on your device. Here’s how to do it:
1. Go to your device’s Settings app.
2. Scroll down until you find Google and tap on it.
3. Select “Account Services -> Search, Assistant & Voice -> Voice.”
4. Find and tap on the “Voice Match” feature under the Hey Google category.
5. Make sure the Google Assistant toggle is on. Also, turn on “Hey Google” under Voice Match.
6. Once Hey Google is on, Google will ask you to say a few phrases so that it can learn your voice. Follow the steps indicated.
Note: on some older devices that don’t offer the assistant’s services by default, you may have to download the Google Assistant app.
Get Google Assistant to Read Articles to You
Before we start, we need to point out one thing. The feature only works if you’re using the Chrome browser on your Android device or any other Chromium-based browsing app. If you have one on your phone, you are good to go.
1. Open an article you’d like to read in your browser of choice, then simply say: “Hey Google, read it.”
2. The first time you’ll attempt this command, Google Assistant will probably say it can’t do that because “Screen Context” needs to be turned on first.
3. A pop-up window will promptly appear on the screen asking you to give the Google app access to use your screen context. Tap OK. You don’t have to go looking through Settings on your own.
4. Now go back to the article and ask the Assistant once again to “Read It.” This time it will surely oblige and say “Got it” or “OK.” It takes a few seconds, as the virtual helper scans the piece before starting to read it out loud.
Take Full Advantage of the Controls
Once the Assistant starts reading to you, it will open the webpage in a dedicated “Read It” browser which features a playback control bar in the lower part of the display where you can pause/play, rewind or skip forward. In addition, there’s an option to increase the speed at which the Assistant reads to you by 0.5x to 3x.
You can access these controls directly from the Notification tray as well. You can even close the browser and still be able to pause or play the reading just by swiping down from the home screen or directly from the lock screen.
But wait – there’s more. Can’t understand English all that well? Perhaps you would like to hear the virtual assistant read to you in your native tongue.
Look for the three-dot menu icon located in the upper-right corner of the “Read It” browser and tap it, then on Translation. Here you can choose the language you want the text translated to, including German, Spanish, Polish, Romanian, and more (42 languages in total). The feature leverages the power of Google Translate to achieve this, and the results are remarkably adequate and convincing.
From the same menu users can select a different voice to read their articles. You’ll find this option under “Read aloud voice.”
As we mentioned above, you’ll need a Chromium-based browser for this feature to work. What’s more, “Read It” is not available for certain websites and most apps. (You’ll need to use the web version instead.) If you’ve stumbled upon a paywall or a log-in is requested to display the full article, the feature may not work. Despite these limitations, the new Google Assistant trick proves super useful. Going forward, Google will surely continue to improve it.
Want to get even more out of your Google Assistant? You may want to learn how to create an emergency routine using Google’s virtual helper, just to stay on the safe side of things.
Image Credit: Google Blog