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Best Text to Speech App (TTS) for Android

Your mother was right when she told you that you should spend more time reading. The problem with reading is that it requires a lot of mental resources and demands your full attention. When you’re driving to work, lifting heavy weights at the gym, preparing a full course dinner for a party of six, or running errands and doing chores, those resources aren’t available, and your attention is required elsewhere.

One convenient way how to overcome this hurdle (and make your mother unhappy) is to use a Text to Speech (TTS) app. As the name suggest, a TTS app converts written text into natural-sounding audio and plays it back to you. Best of all, there’s already a fantastic TTS app preinstalled on your Android device.

Google Text-to-speech

The Google Text-to-Speech app has been an integral part of Android since 2013. It’s used for reading translations and pronunciation of words, reading books, giving turn-by-turn navigation, and improving accessibility across the system. After one of the most recent updates, Google Text-to-speech can also be invoked by any third-party app that supports both text selection and sharing.

For example, you can select an entire web article and have Google Text-to-speech read it to you in a voice that strongly resembles natural English or any other supported language. As of now, the list of supported languages includes Bengali, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, several varieties of the English language, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese. Google is adding new languages on a regular basis as well as improving those that are already supported.

Most users should be able to use Google Text-to-speech right out of the box, but some may need to activate it or install it. The app is available on the Play Store, where you can also check if you have the latest version. To enable it

  1. go to Settings
  2. Language & Input
  3. Text-to-speech output
  4. select Google Text-to-speech as your preferred TTS engine.

@Voice Aloud Reader

Despite Google’s apparent technological superiority, there are other TTS apps out there that are worth your consideration. Some of the best of these apps leverage the power of Google Text-to-speech and apply it in their unique way. @Voice Aloud Reader uses third-party TTS engines, such as the one from Google, to read everything from web pages to emails to documents and even to eBooks.

Just like with Google Text-to-speech you can have it read selected text from any app, but you can also directly open TXT, PDF, DOC, DOCX, RTF, ODT, EPUB, MOBI, PRC, AZW, FB2, and many other popular file formats. The app correctly handles Chinese and Japanese vertical text, making it useful for students of Asian languages and native speakers of Chinese and Japanese alike. Other useful features include the ability to add saved articles from Pocket, sync reading progress using Dropbox, record spoken articles to sound files, or, for example, look up words and phrases on Wikipedia or Google.

It’s important to keep in mind that @Voice Aloud Reader is designed to be an all-encompassing reading companion with every option and feature you might ever need. Try not to be discouraged if you don’t know what every option means. The developer has prepared a comprehensive online manual and several instructional videos, which explain how everything works in great detail.

Talk – Text to Voice FREE

Talk is a simple app that can help you convert any piece of text to a WAV file for later use. You can either import text directly from other apps on your phone or create a new document and type in whatever you want the app to say.

Just like @Voice Aloud Reader, Talk doesn’t come with its own TTS engine. Instead, you must have Google’s TTS engine installed for it to work. The free version of Talk is supported by ads, but there’s also a paid version, called Talk Pro, which is completely ad-free. Both versions allow you to change both pitch and speed, enabling you to customize the audio to your preferences.

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  1. In 2016 we started the development of an app that would read out a personalized list of professional news items. We compared a range of TTS providers and eventually selected Neospeech VoiceText. Despite the OK quality of the TTS voices, working with neospeech has been a nightmare. Throughout the deployment of our SDK I had 2 contact persons leaving the company with each new guy trying to negotiate a new deal. Having paid a developer license of $1000 and so called ‘porting fees’ for the selected voices of $3000. They said these costs could be deducted from the first year production license. They gave me the following pricing structure.

    # of concurrent 4 8 24 48 96 150
    2 voices $2,687.00 $3,800.00 $6,576.00 $9,312.00 $13,152.00 $16,500.00
    3 voices $3,290.88 $4,656.00 $8,064.00 $11,424.00 $16,128.00 $20,100.00
    4 voices $3,800.00 $5,376.00 $9,312.00 $13,152.00 $18,624.00 $23,250.00
    5 voices $4,248.52 $6,008.00 $10,416.00 $14,736.00 $20,832.00 $25,950.00

    After 11 months into the developer lisence another new guy contacted me (the previous contact having left the company as well). He wanted to discuss the pricing for the production license. I said I did not expect any additional costs and that the first year production license pricing would be covered by the porting fees. He said he would discuss that with his manager and get back to me. I did not hear from the guy for 2 months. When he finally got back to me he said the total $4000 could no longer be applied against the first year production license because the one-year developer license already expired the month before. What a way to do business… Probably afraid to lose his job and desperate to score revenue, the new guy decided not follow up on his previous email and silently let the developer license expire. Then the new price he gave me for 2 voices and 1 concurent thread was $6000!
    Please take utmost caution when dealing with Neospeech. They are not to be trusted when it comes to their VoiceText TTS Server SDK, TTS Engine SDK or embeded SDK . Once you have invested in installing their SDK into your environment and are ready to deploy to production they will unilaterally change contract terms and pricing including steep royalty payments and they cannot be reasoned with.
    Neospeech is a 9-man band based in San Francisco and I included their CEO Devin Lee in the correspondence but I never got a reaction from him. Currently they have stopped responding my mails alltogether. I have started legal proceedings against Neospeech for breach of contract. Be warned.

  2. Still not sure how you actually use get TTS to read a message, email or webpage content to you. Once it is enabled, how do you actually get it to read?

  3. I have an app for school ‘Vital Bookshelf’ the books in this app are in epub format, how do I get the Google or Voice Aloud reader or any other TTS to read these type books? When I open the book in the ‘bookshelf’ app there’s an option for read aloud but it goes through the built in reader which is terrible, at best. Any work arounds or suggestions on how to accomplish what I’m trying to do?

  4. Yes, a review of other tts engines would be most welcome, especially with regard to male voices. SVox was indeed the best, but now they’re gone, and I can find no deep male voice that fits my needs. All sound breathy and thin to me. Does anyone have a suggestion?

  5. looking for a text to speech program for my kobo arc 7 hd. want one that just reads the ebook page.
    not to do other distracting crap like making a lot of usless noise. i don’t care if it sounds like a robot.
    as long as it is not loaded with features like lists or requires one to talk back to it or respond in any way demand my attention

  6. I thought you’d at least try some other TTS engines. I used to use SVOX with a paid-for voice until Google got more ‘human’. There’s still plenty of other choices.

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