Getting your iOS device to read out text to you is an easy affair — it can be done using nothing more than native features. Third-party options exist but are rare, partly due to Apple’s restrictive approach to what kind of access third-party developers can have.
Using Siri to Read Out Text
Turning this feature on will give you hands-free access to ask Siri to read text out loud to you. Reading content from your apps will, however, require you to unlock your phone.
Go to Settings > Siri and turn on Siri if the feature isn’t already on. You’ll also have to toggle on Access on Lock Screen and Allow “Hey Siri”.
These are the voice commands you can currently use to get Siri to read content to you.
- “Read me my emails”: Siri will let you know what your three most recent emails are, even those that you’ve already read. She will tell you the sender and the subject line, but won’t read the actual message.
- “Read me my latest email”: Siri tell you the sender, subject, and content of the email and will give you the option to reply.
- “Read me my text messages”: Siri will only read previously unread text messages and will give you the option to reply.
If you want more of the content on your screen read out loud, you’re going to have to opt for the Accessibility feature instead.
Using the Accessibility Feature on iOS
Turning this second feature on will enable your phone to read any text on the screen back to you, but it is not a completely hands-free experience.
Go to Settings > General > Accessibility Speech and toggle on Speak Selection. You can also adjust the speed at which content is read, and can choose from a few different voices in English, including U.S., Australian, Irish, South African, and British accents.
Once it’s set up, you can select text in any app, tap the Speak button and it will read that content back to you. If you close the app, however, the reading will be interrupted.
If you want a completely hands free experience, and one that works in the background after closing the app, open up the screen you want read out loud and use the voice command “Hey Siri, speak screen”. A menu will appear on the screen allowing you to speed up or slow down the rate, pause, and fast forward. (You can also swipe down with two fingers at the top of the screen to have Siri read out that content).
There are a few other iOS apps that have an inbuilt capability to read content out to you, but the selection is limited. Both Pocket and Instapaper’s iOS apps read your saved articles to you. There are also a few apps out there that will read out general content on the web (Audiofy [No Longer Available]), a curated list of news articles (Newsbeat), and PDFs (vBookz PDF Voice Reader).
Do you have any tips or tricks for getting your iPhone to read text out loud to you? Let us know in the comments.