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Text-to-speech on an Android - No Apps Required!

by Craig Mill

on Wed Jul 05, 2017

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While updating the Google Voice Typing page on the CALL website I came across a new feature (new to me), ‘Select to Speak’ on the latest Android operating system, Marshmallow.

Select to Speak allows you to select text on the screen and hear it spoken aloud. It works on most of the Android free apps such as Google browser, GMail and Google Docs.

It also speaks names of apps on the desktop as well as menu items such as 'File', 'Open', 'Save As' etc. Select to Speak does not currently read text in Microsoft Word. 

Setting up Select to Speak

Select to Speak is turned off by default and needs to be turned on in Settings. 

  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Scroll down until you see the Category ‘Systems’ and tap 'Accessibility'.
  3. Tap ‘Select to Speak’ by tapping the On/Off switch at the top right of the screen.

Settings in Android

Using Select to Speak 

When Select to Speak is turned on a ‘speech bubble’ appears on the screen.

  1. Tap the speech bubble and it will turn blue - Select to Speak is waiting for you to select some text.
  2. Tap an item on the screen, or drag your finger across a sentence or paragraph of text to hear it spoken aloud.
  3. Select to Speak also highlights words and sentences as they are spoken.

To stop Select to Speak from speaking tap the screen.

The speech bubble can be positioned anywhere on the tablet's screen by ‘tapping and holding’ and dragging it across the screen – so it’s always available, whenever you need it. 

The Scottish Voices on an Android

The Scottish voices, Heather and Stuart are compatible with Select to Speak and can be purchased on the Google Play Store only 59p. 

Scottish voices

After downloading a voice go to Settings > Accessibility > Text-to-speech output – and set either Heather or Stuart as the default voice. 

Setting the voice in Android


Try dictating some text into Google Docs or Gmail with Google Voice Typing and use Select to Speak to check your accuracy. 

Tags: text-to-speech, android, dyslexia

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