Listen to your favorite Instapaper articles with Google Home

Francesco Pongetti
Apr 22, 2018 · 4 min read

I recently installed a Google Home (GH) in my apartment and although the amount of actions the Google Assistant can do out-of-the-box is massive, things got really exciting when I discovered that GH (actually the Google Assistant) can be integrated with IFTTT!

IFTTT is the bridge to connect your Google Assistant to virtually *any* web services: either directly on IFTTT or with webhooks.
IFTTT integration with Google Assistant is rather simple, it allows to define new voice commands as trigger to perform actions:

(This tutorial is designed for Android, I am quite sure this is replicable on iOS but I don’t have experience with it.)

1. Automate, automate, automate!

I am a huge fun of Instapaper and when I find an interesting article I often save it to my Instapaper collection to read it later. As soon as I unboxed my Google Home I thought:

How nice would it be if I could listen to my last saved articles directly through Google Home speaker when I get home with a simple command?

Here, IFTTT comes to the rescue glueing together several other web services:

  1. Instapaper (of course)
  2. Narro is a free service that reads any URL into an audio file. It is clever enough to understand the URL language and can generate an RSS feed of your audio files consumable by most of the podcast players. Very cool!
  3. Pushbullet is a web service and a mobile app which can do many many things, but for this recipe, I use it to send notifications to my phone.
  4. Tasker is an Android app which performs configurable tasks to control your device.
  5. Podcast Addict: my favorite podcast app :)

This is how it works:

2. From Instapaper to Podcast Addict via Narro and IFTTT

  1. Register an account on Narro, your RSS feed address will be something like http://on.narro.co/your_username.
  2. In Podcast Addict, add a new podcast using the RSS feed address at the previous step.
  3. In Podcast Addict, in the page of the new podcast, go to the Custom Setting > Edit Categoriesand type articles.
    Podcast Addict will automatically create a new playlist named articles with all the new audio files coming from the Nando feed.
  4. In IFTTT, connect both Instapaper and Narro services to the platform. Then create a recipe:
    IF a new Instapaper article is saved THEN submit the articles URL to Narro.

Every time a new article is added to Instapaper, Narro receives a notification, reads the article into an audio file and publishes it to the RSS feed which Podcast Addict consumes, adding the audio file to the auto-generated playlist.

3. Google Home reads aloud!

  1. Connect the phone to the Google Home with Bluetooth. In this way Google Home works as a speaker (instructions).
    Once the phone is paired you can just say “OK Google, connect bluetooth”.
  2. Register an account on Pushbullet and install the Android app.
  3. On IFTTT, connect both Google Assistant and Pushbullet services to the platform. Then create a recipe:
    IF you say “Ready me my last articles” THEN push a note.
  4. As trigger use the Google Assistant integration “Say a simple phase” and as action use the Pushbullet integration “Push a note” setting instapaper as Title for the note (this is very important for the next steps).
  5. Install the Tasker Android app and configure it to open and play the right Podcast Addict playlist when a new Pushbullet notification — with title instapaper — is received by the phone.
    Podcast Addict can be controlled by Tasker using the Send Intent action and using the values listed in this page. For this experiment I used the following configuration:
> Action: com.bambuna.podcastaddict.openplaylist
> Extra: arg1:articles
> Extra: arg2:false
> Extra: arg3:true

Arg1 is the name of the playlist in Podcast Addict.
Arg2 is opening Podcast Addict in background.
Arg3 is starting to play the playlist once open.

Then in the Profiles tab execute this task when the Pushbullet notification arrives. I created a simple screencast to show how to configure Tasker:

We are done!

Every time we say “Ok Google, read me my articles”, a Pushbullet notification is sent to the phone, triggering a Tasker task to open the Podcast Addicted playlist with the articles’ audios. The audio is streamed back to the Google Home via bluetooth.

Life ho(p)ping

Interesting code and life hacks (sometimes rants too)

Francesco Pongetti

Written by

TPM@Google, Software Engineer, MBA and some other things too

Life ho(p)ping

Interesting code and life hacks (sometimes rants too)