Android Can Now Read Google Books Purchases Aloud

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.

Google Play Books can be downloaded for Android here.


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  • batkerson
    How do you purchase books "aloud"??? And why only "purchase" information???
    Headline should read: "Android Can Now Read Aloud Purchased Google Books"
  • thecolorblue
    there is no pleasure in listening to a monotone voice dictate a book.

    good audiobooks are all about who is reading it... a bad narrator can ruin an excellent book. A great narrator can take a decent book and make it into an excellent audiobook experience.
  • CrArC
    If only it could detect and apply different voices whenever there's dialogue in a book.

    They could have a library of voice synthesisers and have it scan ahead to ascertain who is speaking before applying the correct voice for everything within the upcoming speech marks.

    Bonus points if the voices are comically bad. Just imagine.