Search giant Google in a new update is rolling out an article-reading feature on Google Assistant that can read webpages aloud. Google first previewed this feature at CES in January, which is now becoming available globally, starting today.
Whenever you want the Assistant to read a displayed web article on your Android phone, simply say ‘Hey Google, read it’ or ‘Hey Google, read this page’, and the virtual assistant will instantly start reading aloud the content of the web page. And to help you follow along, the web browser will automatically scroll the page and highlight words as they're read aloud. And to skip to a section, just tap on the screen to move forward.
Google says users can alter the reading speed and choose from multiple voices. For instance, a person who listens to podcasts at two times the normal speed, he/she can adjust Google Assistant’s reading speed for faster or slower cadences.
The web pages are read aloud in expressive and natural voices, but if the original content isn’t in your native language Google Assistant can trigger your browser to read aloud in 42 languages. 'You can use the translation menu to choose the desired language and all web pages will be automatically translated and read out in that chosen language,' Google said in a blog post.
While screen readers aren’t entirely a new thing on smartphones, Google says that it has improved the Google Assistant’s ability to parse sentences, meaning the web pages aren’t just read aloud in expressive and natural voices but in the same intonation and rhythm that you'd use if you were reading it aloud yourself.
The feature has just started rolling out, so if you don’t have it enabled on your Android device just yet, you can check back later.