In addition to implementing scan-and-match capabilities in Google Music, the search engine giant has also updated another service that now puts it on equal ground with Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iBooks: Read Aloud in Google Play Books. Now users can sit back and listen to a female robot rip through the English language with a cold, unfeeling voice that fits right in with the long Winter nights.
Introduced to Google Play Books on Tuesday, this new feature will actually read the text of numerous purchased books, or "flowing text" books (samples don't apply). It's located under the Add Bookmark command in the Settings menu (shown below), and can be set to automatically begin reading aloud once a book is opened. Problem is, many book owners may opt to actually read instead.
"At first I was disappointed with the voice quality. Then I found the high quality setting. Would be nice to give her a slower more natural reading cadence. She is no longer quickly reading a card on google now. It's a book," one reviewer stated.
As indicated, the base vocal rendition isn't all that desirable. In the Settings menu, there's an option for using a high-quality voice which uses "a more natural" tone to read aloud. Unfortunately, this requires a network connection, and could eat chunks out of a user's data package if used on the road. Yet this high-def voice is somewhat more tolerable than the original until it stumbles on potholes like (*) or other symbols.
As the reviewer points out, even the high-quality voice speaks a bit too quickly, making you feel a little anxious and on edge. For what it's worth, it's a step in the right direction – you get used to the pace and the bumps in the sentence freeway after a while, but it's difficult to endure for long durations. If anything, Read Aloud is a fun feature to play with for a while at the very least.
In addition to adding Read Aloud, Google Play Books also now features pinch-zoom and double-tap-zoom capabilities, text editing features for notes, personal recommendations at the end of the library and books, and numerous bug fixes and performance enhancements.