Were you among the 27% of American population that didn’t read a single book in 2017? You probably don’t have to this year either. Now, text-to-speech applications are offering an innovative solution for users to interact with content by taking it out of books and computer screens and integrating it into any environment that the user finds convenient.
Most people lead a busy lifestyle and complain that they don’t have time to read, which is totally cool, because with text-to-speech, you don’t really have to carry a book or scroll infinitely through your favorite blogs or publications when you could be spending that time doing something else. With the convenience of a text-to-speech applications, multitaskers can listen to content on the go while having the physical freedom to perform other tasks. The daily rush hour traffic draining too much of your valuable time? Would you rather listen to the latest news and blog posts instead of prerecorded podcasts while running or exercising in the gym? What about when you’re taking a break from work or just relaxing, but aren’t particularly in the mood to read? Simply launch the text-to-speech application on your smart phone to convert any article into a podcast and listen away anywhere, anytime.
Here are some of the best text-to speech applications that will do the job of reading for you, while you keep yourself occupied with other tasks.
“It lets me convert articles and listen to them on the go.”
- Easy Registration using social sign-in option (Facebook and Google)
- $1.99 for 5 hours of conversion time
- Supports all file formats for file-to-speech conversion
- 30 free minutes of credit after sign-up
- Daily 5 minutes of free conversion for members
- 8 free daily articles from The New York Times and Medium
Listening to your favorite book or article has never been this easy. Read2Me (https://read2me.online/) uses the same state-of-the-art text-to-speech engine found in Amazon Alexa to convert any text or document into speech within seconds.
The website has a no-bullshit user interface that lets you convert any text into speech through a two-step process: simply type in the web address of the article you want to convert in the search bar or upload a file from your computer and hit play. The speed bar gives user control over the narration speed and can be reduced to slow down the narration or increased to speed it up.
The sign up and payment process are just as simple. The application uses social sign-in option to eliminate all unnecessary steps in setting up an account. Unlike Narro and Play, Read2Me doesn’t require users to register or sign in, in order to convert text to audio; non-members still get 60 seconds of free conversion time, along with access to 4 daily curated articles. But signing up with Read2Me comes with several perks — all new members receive 30 minutes of free text-to-speech conversion time along with 5 additional minutes every day.
With 5 hours of conversion time for only $1.99, Read2Me is much cheaper than some of the other known websites like Narro.com which charges an entry price of $8. Supported payment methods for buying credit include PayPal, debit card and credit card.
Read2Me also features 8 new, daily curated articles from Medium and The New York Times which can be listened to for free. The bookmark feature allows users to save any article from the daily curated list before it disappears and read it at a later time.
Even premium articles from Medium can be accessed through Read2Me without paying the $5 monthly subscription free for the publication. All previously played articles can be accessed through the history page so users don’t have to pay to convert the same text again.
Some other use cases include: listening to manuscripts (for writers), speech generator for YouTube (so you don’t have to hire expensive voice actors), people with reading disabilities (e.g. dyslexics) using a customised version, people who need to ingest a lot of information (I.e. entrepreneurs).
“Perfect for learning at the gym or daily commute.”
- Import article from any website directly into the podcast feed with chrome extension
- Monthly subscription for $7.99
- 15 free articles per month with the free version
- Choose from 25+ different voices and 12+ languages
- Lets you download and share podcast on social media
When it comes to digital products, I, like any other consumer, value usability more than anything else. Hence, it’s not surprising that the first thing I noticed after landing on Narro’s homepage was a long what-do-I-do-next pause before deciding that I probably need to sign up before I can test the website’s text-to-speech software. This wasn’t ideal, especially compared to Read2Me where I could instantly enter the URL of a webpage or an article to get 60 seconds of free conversion without having to sign up.
The signup process wasn’t as seamless as I had expected either. The website only supports email sign up and only after verifying the email address from your inbox can you proceed with using the text-to-speech app. Things didn’t become any simpler after I had gone through all the signup formalities as I discovered another problem with Narro’s podcast feed which either takes a very long time to update or doesn’t update at all. The first URL that I submitted took a while to appear on my feed, and after waiting for a few frustrating minutes, I was finally able to listen to it. The second article took even longer and I had to submit it twice just to be sure that my request had gone through. Once the article did appear on the podcast feed, it was, very inconveniently, accompanied by a duplicate which had now permanently become a part of my podcast feed since Narro doesn’t give an option to remove it.
The narration quality wasn’t perfect but, as far as text-to-speech applications go, the app gets the job done. The website has a number of cool features including a chrome extension called bookmarklet which allows you to add article directly from the website into your podcast feed to listen to later. Articles can also be synced from Pocket and Instapaper, which was nice. Narro has an Android and iOS app for easy access to your reading list directly from your phone (I’ve tested the app for Android and it was quite buggy). All articles from the podcast feed are downloadable and sharable on social media using a special podcast URL provided by Narro.
“Consume information, conveniently”
Play is another text-to-speech application that allows users to choose articles from the website’s curated list and make their own custom playlist to listen to on the go. Although the website features a huge selection of articles from various publications, the curated lists have not been updated for months which makes it impossible to listen to an article of your choice if it isn’t on the website.
Play’s free chrome extension does make things easier to some extent by letting users listen to any article on Medium directly from the source through an embedded player at the top of the webpage. However, the extension works only with Medium and doesn’t convert articles from any other publications or blogs. Moreover, the text-to-speech application only offers a limited number of features in comparison to its other two competitors and doesn’t let you upload or convert text files directly from the computer.
Like Narro, Play also syncs with Pocket to add bookmarked articles to your custom playlist. The embedded player has a few cool features such as a choice between 14 different narration voices with popular accents as well as speed adjustment which gives listeners the control over how fast or slow they want the narration to be. The built-in share-ability feature also lets you share the podcast on various social media channels.
This article has been written by Rida.
Let us know in the comments below which one is your favorite, how do you use them, what features would you like to see, what you don’t like, etc.