The Google Assistant can now read web pages aloud, in a new update designed to make life easier for users with vision and reading issues.
In a new addition to the AI assistant’s capabilities, users can simply say “Hey Google, read it” in order to hear the contents of a browser page spoken out loud.
Currently scheduled for a roll out on Android later this year (no word on an iOS rollout yet), the feature will highlight the words on the page as it progresses through the content.
It’s also possible to change the speed of the speech, skip to different portions and even translate the page in to one of 42 different languages, should it not be in the user’s native tongue.
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Naturally it’s powered by Google’s ever-impressive neural network-powered text-to-speech tools, which promise a more natural sounding reading of long form content like web pages.
Google says the goal is to present a “smooth, fast and natural sounding experience,” thanks to the focus on three parameters of speech; stress, intonation and rhythm.
Yossi Matias, a VP of engineering and project lead at Google says: “We are constantly trying to remove barriers, so people can get to the information they need, the way they need it. Today, with this conversational AI technology, we can get much closer to the mission.
“We’ve seen text-to-speech technology advancing to the level that now I can enjoy listening to many pages in the way I enjoy listening to a book.”
The feature will require version 5 of the Google Assistant, rather than any particular version of the Android operating system.
This may have been a feature Google was planning to reveal at Google I/O in May, but this week the company discovered it’ll be making the developer conference online only due to the threat of the coronavirus.