Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Every Android user should keep a text-to-speech app handy. You don’t need to have a vision impairment to enjoy the benefits.
For example, they’ll let you listen to the news on your morning commute, catch up with new text messages in bed, or even enjoy your favorite ebooks without looking at the screen.
But which Android text-to-speech apps are the best? Keep reading to find out.
1. Android’s Native Text-to-Speech Feature
The feature has fewer customizable settings than some of its competitors. You can adjust the speech rate and pitch and install additional languages—that’s it.
To change the text-to-speech settings, head to Settings > Personal > Language and input > Speech > Text-to-speech output.
Android’s text-to-speech feature automatically works with other Google apps that offer a read aloud feature. For all other apps, you’ll need to enable Select-to-speak in Android’s settings menu.
To enable the feature, go to Settings > System > Accessibility > Services > Select-to-speak. To use it, select text in any app and choose Speak from the popup menu.
2. Voice Aloud Reader
Voice Aloud Reader is easy to use and supports a few different ways of reading text.
If the app from which you want to read text has a share feature, just send the content to Voice Aloud Reader using the native Android Share menu. This also works for on-screen items that have their own share buttons, like tweets and Facebook posts.
Similarly, if the text you want to read is selectable, you can use the Share button in the popup context menu.
The app also works with URLs. Just paste the site’s (or article’s) address into Voice Aloud Reader, and it will automatically parse and read the relevant text for you. It’s intelligent enough to strip out the menus and other junk.
You can even add text files (like DOC and PDF) directly into the app; it can open the files and read their contents.
Download: Voice Reading (Free)
3. Narrator’s Voice
Narrator’s Voice offers something a bit different. The usual features are here: it can read text from apps, the web, messages, and other sources.
However, the app also has a fun side. You can add various sound effects to the speech synthesis such as echo, reverb, gargle, and choir.
It featuresa wide selection of voices to choose from. Some tech favorites like Cortana and Siri are present, as are some of the developer’s own creations like “Steven” and “Pink Sheep” (don’t ask).
Additionally, Narrator’s Voice lets you add your own text which it will then run through its synthesizer. It makes the app a great way to add a voiceover to video narrations, slideshow presentations, and more.
You can even save your audio output file as an MP3, store it offline, and share it with friends.
An in-app purchase removes the ads.
Download: Narrator’s Voice (Free)
4. Talk Free
Talk Free takes a more minimal approach than Voice Reading and Narrator’s Voice.
The app can import web pages directly from your phone’s browser or read the text from other third-party apps. You can export all the audio files and save them offline in WAV format.
It’s important to note that Talk Free relies on your phone’s pre-existing text-to-speech (TTS) engine to work. Most Android devices will already have Google’s engine installed. If you have deleted your phone’s TTS engine, you can re-download Google Text-to-Speech free from the Play Store.
The benefit of using Google’s TTS engine is support for lots of languages. If Google offers the language, Talk Free can generally work with it.
The pro version removes ads.
T2S is a text-to-speech app that offers one of the most modern interfaces out of the apps we’ve discussed.
The app’s standout feature is the presence of a simple built-in web browser. It’s not going win any awards for the number of features it offers, but it lets you easily listen to web pages without worrying about copying and pasting URLs or using the Share menu.
T2S’s copy-to-speak feature is also worth mentioning. It shows an on-screen popup button whenever you copy text in other apps. Pressing the button will make the app start reading the copied text instantly.
As with the other apps in this list, T2S lets you save your audio readouts and share them with other people.
The pro version removes ads.
Download: T2S (Free)
6. TK Solution Text to Speech
Another popular text-to-speech app on Android is TK Solution’s Text to Speech.
The app works well and hosts the usual selection of features, including exportable WAV files, an area where you can type your own text and make the app read it aloud, and a variety of supported languages.
It also offers a unique feature that warrants its inclusion in this list: vocal input. You can tap the microphone button, speak into the app, and then listen to a synthesized version of what you said.
On the downside, we didn’t like the excessively large space dedicated to the app’s settings that’s ever-present at the top of the window.
You can remove ads via an in-app purchase.
Download: TK Solution’s Text to Speech (Free)
We’ll leave you with a slightly left-field choice: Pocket.
You probably already know that the app is an excellent way to save articles to read later when you’re offline.
You may not know, however, that the app also has a text-to-speech reader. The feature supports multiple voices and languages and includes adjustable pitch and speed. It even supports background playback, meaning you can keep listening while you use other apps.
Because the text-to-speech reader is one of Pocket’s native features, it’s great when you want to listen to some longform content on a journey when you are without internet. Obviously, if you want to listen to text from all your apps, this isn’t the right choice for you.
Download: Pocket (Free, premium version available)
Speaking Text Everywhere
Hopefully, you now appreciate the benefits of keeping a text-to-speech app installed on your Android device. We’d love to know how you utilize the technology; you can share your stories in the comments.