There’s a lot out there on the web, if you haven’t noticed—and a fair amount being added each day, too. One of the ways to tackle an ever-growing reading list of articles is to have stories read out to you from your phone, which is now something the default browsers on both Android and iOS can handle.
This feature is of course also useful for the visually impaired, and it’s not difficult to get up and running. It means you can be listening to articles from your favorite websites while doing the dishes, driving, nodding off to sleep, taking a walk, or doing anything else where you can spare some attention for an audio source.
If you think about all the places where you can catch up on podcasts or audiobooks, webpages that are read out to you can work the same way. Everything you need is already on your phone, and you don’t have to install any additional apps.
Listening to the web on Android
On Android, the task of reading out articles on the web is handled by Google Assistant working with the default Google Chrome browser. With a page open in Chrome, just say, “Hey Google, read this page” to hear it. Depending on your handset, you might also be able to press and hold the power button to launch Google Assistant.
You’ll see playback controls appear along the bottom of the screen while the article is read out. You can pause and restart the audio, jump to a different part of the page, and change the reading speed using the dial icon on the right. To exit the read-aloud mode, tap the back arrow in the top right corner (or use the back gesture).
Tap the three dots (top right), and you can find options for changing the voice used to read out webpages. You can also enable or disable text sync—that’s where words in the web article are highlighted in blue as they’re read out. Another option is Translate, if you want Google Assistant to translate the webpage as well as reading it out.
It’s also worth noting that if you’ve installed Google’s Reading mode app for Android, this has a read aloud feature built into it, too. When you’ve set up the app, it lets you view webpages without any ads, menus, or other distractions, and there’s a play button at the bottom of the interface to hear articles in audio form.
Listening to the web on iOS
While iOS has long been able to read out whatever’s on screen for you as part of its accessibility settings, Apple added the specific ability for Siri to look at and read out the text of web articles with the arrival of iOS 17. It makes for a much more intuitive and effective user experience, which we’ve covered before.
With a webpage open in Safari on your iPhone, say, “Hey Siri, read this” to hear the text read aloud (a media playback panel will show up at the top of the screen, too). You can also press and hold the side button or the Home button on your iPhone to launch Siri, of course. If you prefer, you can tap the double-A icon in the address bar at the bottom of the screen, then tap Listen to Page.
If you take that second option, you’ll see a speech bubble icon next to the website address: Tap on this, and you can change the speed of the audio, pause and restart the playback, or jump forwards or backwards through the page. Tap End Listening to stop the audio and return to normal browsing.
Safari also comes with a built-in reading mode that lets you concentrate on the text of a website by removing most of the formatting and extra furniture on the page: You can activate it by tapping the double-A icon in the address bar and choosing Show Reader; the read-aloud feature can be launched in the same ways from reading mode, too.
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