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If you want to multitask, one thing you can try is to get your Android device to read text out loud to you — that way your eyes can be busy doing something else. It’s even more helpful if your vision is going and you have a hard time focusing on digital screen text.
Here are three easy ways to do that.
1. Google Assistant
Android’s Google Assistant can do quite a bit, but one thing it’s not very good at is reading things back to you. In fact, the only thing you can get Google Assistant to read out loud are your five latest text messages. For some, this may be exactly what you need.
Use the voice command Read my text messages and she’ll deliver them in order of most recent first. After each message, you can choose to repeat the message or reply, before going on to the next one.
If you want to depend on native features to hear more than just your text messages, you’re going to have to delve into Android’s accessibility features. You can get the feature up and running in two easy steps.
- Go to Settings > Accessibility > Text-to-Speech. The settings here will likely vary depending on what make phone you have. For example, Samsung users can choose between Google’s text-to-speech function or Samsung’s. You can adjust the speech rate and pitch and play an example to hear how it sounds.
- Go back to the Accessibility screen and scroll down to Select to Speak and toggle it on.
You should now see a little icon in the corner of your screen with a speech bubble. To use the feature, do the following:
- Navigate to the app or page you want read out loud.
- Tap the speech bubble icon (it will turn blue).
- Select the text you want read out loud.
Unfortunately there are no voice commands that will get this read out to you without having to actually manually select the text you want to hear. The cadence is predictably robotic, but that is to be expected.
3. Third-Party Apps
For those of you who don’t have Google Assistant or for those of you want a more robust hands-free experience, you can look to a third-party app.
One of the simplest to use is OutLoud. With the free version of the app, you can set it to read notifications from one app. Upgrading to the paid version of the app for $1.99 allows you to select unlimited apps.
After choosing your app of choice, go to the Preferences tab to turn the feature on. Under preferences you can also set it to automatically turn on and off when headphones are plugged in or when connected to bluetooth. These scenarios can be useful during a commute, for example, so you don’t have to take your phone out of your bag to hear messages.
Other settings include blocking certain words from being read out loud, scheduling times for OutLoud to turn on and off, and selecting the TTS Engine. Those first two are only available to upgraded users.
Do more with your Android device with these tweaks that work without rooting: