Apps that read text from a screen, be it phone, tablet, or computer, have many uses in both the work and reading worlds. Whether you simply prefer when you hear something versus reading it, or you are looking for specific apps to help support different styles of learning, apps that read to you can make catching up on the news or browsing webpages less stressful. In addition to translating text to audio, many of these apps that read to you also have the ability to help streamline the content you see, which makes for a less distracting experience overall.
While some apps focus on narration of a single page, others can be used to make PDFs or other files into audio versions that can be listened to later. The app you choose to read to you will be based upon your own preferences, but you may find it helpful to test out or even routinely use a variety of apps to meet your reading needs!
1. Natural Reader
One of the most intuitive and easy to use text to voice programs, Natural reader offers a variety of, well, natural, voices to read your text. From your web browser, you have the option to copy and paste text or type it into the box, and have it read to you instantly. Users can also upload files from a computer to have them read aloud or can convert the document’s audio into an mp3 file for storage and later use. The site offers both free and upgraded versions of the reader, as well as a Chrome extension that can be used to directly read a webpage aloud and licenses for educational and commercial use.
2. Browse Aloud
Designed to help with accessibility of webpages and other materials, Browse Aloud is a resource that anyone who publishes online should be aware of and know how to use. While it does require a license after a free 90 day trial, Browse Aloud offers many features, such as translation and image description, to make webpages more accessible. In addition to allowing users to have text read to them, this app also provides the ability to convert content to an mp3 file, allow users to view a simplified version of the webpage, and allows for masking parts of the page to allow the reader to focus on one section.
3. Voice Dream
A suite of apps that also includes writing and scanning tools, Voice Dream is an app that reads to you in the voice of your choice and from a variety of document types. Specifically formatted to help support readers with learning differences, the app offers a choice of voices and works in 30 different languages (additional voices are available for purchase in-app). The app reads to you by highlighting text in sync with the voice the reader has chosen, and can be used with webpages as well as documents that are uploaded by the user. The text is shown in a simplified, distraction free display that helps the reader follow along with the words being spoken. A great choice for tablets, smartphone users, and educational settings.
4. Read & Write
With versions for both the workplace and educational institutions, as well as a Chrome extension, Read & Write aims to support readers both by translating text to audio and by providing other features to make reading and writing easier. After installing the toolbar, users can have the app read to them from a webpage, email, or document, use the screen masking feature to improve concentration, and scan paper documents to digital so they can be read aloud by the app. The writing portion of the program also offers predictive text options as well as spellcheck features.
Speechify claims that it can “turn any text into an audiobook” in order to increase reader’s understanding, retention, and productivity. This app reads to you by generating human-like voices through AI technology and allows the user to upload documents, including from scans or Google Drive. Since Speechify can sync across devices and allows plenty of options for uploading content, it can be a great tool for anyone who needs reading support in the classroom or the workplace.
The ClaroSpeak app is available to users on iOS or Google Chrome platforms, with app and extension options for both. Users in the free version can type or upload text they would like read aloud to them, while a premium version also allows for saving to Google Drive or Dropbox as well as capturing text from screenshots or photos. Users can control the speed of the reading voice and can choose text display and highlighting options to minimize distractions while reading. The app also allows for users to dictate their own writing and have it read back to them to help with proofreading and writing structure.
No matter what you’re looking for in apps that read to you, one of these should help you gain confidence, improve productivity, and let you access content in a way that is most comfortable for you!