What is Android Reading Mode and How to Use It

Reading Mode Feature

Reading Mode is a new feature for Android devices that is quietly flying under the radar. However, it could be a game changer in the way you use your device. The feature has been designed for people with low vision, blindness, and dyslexia. That said, it offers a number of useful features that virtually everyone can benefit from.

Tip: like to read on your mobile device? Here are the top ebook reader apps for Android and iOS.

What Is Android Reading Mode?

Reading Mode aims to optimize the text displayed on the screen to make it easier and more comfortable to read. It achieves this by automatically adjusting the size of the text, font, and other display settings – all in an effort to make the text more legible and reduce eye strain.

Reading Mode Summary View

In addition, Reading Mode may also remove distractions commonly encountered when surfing the Web. This includes things like advertisements and other website elements like menus. After removing these things, just the text of the article and any key images or graphics are left. This helps the user focus solely on the text.

Reading Mode Summary Font

Furthermore, Reading Mode also has the ability to read text out loud. This makes the tool especially useful for people who are blind or have impaired vision, as well as folks who wish to multitask.

Reading Mode Summary Read Aloud

Tip: did you know that you can also have your Google Assistant read you articles out loud? Here’s how.

How to Enable Reading Mode on Your Android Device

Reading Mode is part of the December 2022 Android update, so devices eligible for the update will have Reading Mode installed on their device automatically. But it may take a while for the manufacturers of different devices to roll this update out to their customers. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for the update to start using Reading Mode. You can simply download the new feature immediately from the Google Play Store.

Reading Mode Welcome
  1. When the Reading Mode app has been installed on your device, launch it. Opening the app for the first time will prompt a tutorial. Follow the directions that appear on the screen.
Reading Mode Setup
  1. This will bring you to the Accessibility Settings menu of your device. On this screen, find “Reading mode” and tap on it.

Note: the Accessibility Settings menu will look different, depending on your device

Reading Mode Toggleon
  1. Turn on the “Reading mode shortcut” by flicking the toggle switch to the “On” position. A pop-up will appear asking you if you want to grant Reading Mode certain permissions. It won’t work without it, so go ahead and tap on “Allow.”
Reading Mode Permissions
  1. A small accessibility button will appear somewhere on your screen.
  2. For some devices, the accessibility button will be a small floating icon on the side of the screen. When we installed Reading Mode on our Samsung Note, the accessibility button appeared at the bottom of our screen, to the right of the navigation buttons. Therefore, where the button appears on your device will vary depending on manufacturer.
Reading Mode Samsungbutton

Alternative Ways to Enable Reading Mode

If the idea of a floating button on your screen doesn’t float your boat, there is another way to enable Reading Mode. Open your device’s settings and tap “Accessibility -> Reading mode -> Reading mode shortcut.”

Reading Mode Options

Here you’ll see the ability to assign Reading Mode to your device’s volume keys. Tap “Volume Keys” to enable Reading Mode when you hold down both volume keys on your device. Alternatively, on some devices, you can tap “More Options” and nominate a gesture to launch Reading Mode.

Good to know: if your child loves reading on their tablet, you can grow their digital library by checking out these sites where you can find free online books.

How to Use Reading Mode

You can use Reading Mode whenever you want, although it does work better in certain scenarios, namely websites with a lot of text.

To launch Reading Mode, tap the accessibility button (or hold the volume keys or execute the nominated gesture). Doing so will clear out the clutter on whatever is on your screen. How long it takes Reading Mode to clean things up will depend on the complexity of the article or app.

Reading Mode Beforeandafter
Image source: CNN

However, in our tests of various news and article-type websites, it only took a couple of seconds to perform the conversion. That said, we did run into a few web pages that Reading Mode was unable to simplify. Regardless, these failures seemed to be arbitrary. Granted, Reading Mode works best with text-heavy content, but be aware that it seems like there are still some kinks to be ironed out.

Reading Mode Cantread

Customize How Reading Mode Displays Text

In addition to removing distractions, Reading Mode allows you to customize the way things look.

  1. To increase or decrease the size of the text on the screen, tap the two Ts in the lower-right corner.
Reading Mode Textsize
  1. Furthermore, tapping on the cog button in the lower-left corner gives you even more customization options. These include things like changing the color of the font, changing the font type, and the size of the spacing between lines of text.
Reading Mode Customtext

Tip: make sure you don’t strain your eyes while browsing by turning on dark mode in Chrome.

Have Reading Mode Read the Text to You

In addition to changing the appearance of the text on the screen, Reading Mode can also read the text out loud. To do this, tap the “Play” button situated underneath the text.

Reading Mode Readsettings

Reading Mode will begin reading the article, highlighting the text as it is read. Furthermore, navigation arrows appear on the screen on either side of the Play button. These enable you to skip forward or backward. Tap once and Reading Mode will skip to the sentence (or go back a sentence). Holding them will skip an entire paragraph (or go back a paragraph).

Tapping on the speed dial icon on the bottom right will enable you to increase or decrease the speed at which the article is read. Additionally, tapping the cog icon and selecting the “Audio” button in the menu will give you other options, including changing the reading voice.

How to Exit Reading Mode

When Reading Mode is activated, you’ll notice that an arrow icon appears at the top of your screen.

Reading Mode Exit

If you wish to exit out of Reading Mode and revert back to the standard view, pull down on that arrow with your finger and swipe down toward the bottom of your screen. Reading Mode will turn off, and you’ll get back to normal Android.

Good to know: you can alternate between light and dark modes throughout the day on Android. Here’s how you can schedule dark mode to take over at sunset.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there alternatives to Google's Reading Mode on Android?

If you have a Samsung device and don’t mind using the Samsung web browser, you can enable “Reader View,” which strips ads and other clutter from websites. To use it, launch the Samsung internet browser app and navigate to a website. To the right of the URL bar, you’ll see an icon that looks like a page with writing on it. Simply tap that to activate Reader View.

If you don’t have a Samsung device, you can try Cite. It’s a relatively new app; however, it offers a decluttered view of web pages and has the ability to read articles out loud. Furthermore, Pocket from Mozilla also has the ability to read articles and websites out loud.

Some Android devices (such as OnePlus phones) offer a built-in Reading Mode option which is part of their custom skin.

Can I use Reading Mode with every app?

Unfortunately, Reading Mode currently doesn’t support PDF files, emails, chat messages, or social media feeds. However, this is a new feature, so it’s possible these capabilities will be added in future updates to the app.

Is there something like Reading Mode available on my PC?

Reading Mode is available on other devices like your PC; however, it is known by other names. In Windows, you’ll need to use Microsoft Edge as your browser and enable “Immersive Reader” by pressing F9 on your keyboard. This removes distractions like ads and other clutter.

If you’re a Mac user, the Safari browser has a “Reader” mode. Like Immersive Reader for the Edge browser, it also removes ads for easier reading. To enable it, click the “Reader” button (it looks like a piece of paper with writing on it) to the left of the Smart Search field. Unfortunately, it does not read text out loud.

If you’re not a Safari or Edge user, you can try the Brave browser. This Chromium-based web browser strips ads from websites automatically. It won’t have any of the customization options but will prevent ads from loading.

Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Ryan Lynch.

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