Podcast and audiobook adoption is on an all-time staggering high. A lot of people are starting to turn to podcasts (or audiobooks) to replace the time they otherwise spend listening to music, be it during a commute, workout, or any other trivial activity. As a result, we now have an increase in the number of podcasts and audiobooks coming out, with some of the established music services adding podcast functionality to garner new users to avoid missing out on the opportunity.
On the other side of the spectrum, while the visual content — articles and videos — continues to tread at a constant pace, we are gradually seeing a rise in services that are making consuming articles less of an engaging activity by taking away the need to go through them in the traditional way. Although there are a few different services that offer this functionality, the one we are talking about in this article is Podcastle AI, which is essentially a Chrome extension that converts articles to podcasts.
What is Podcastle?
Podcastle is an AI-powered browser extension that takes any written text, be it news, article, or blog posts, and converts it into a podcast that you can listen to. The service is currently only available on Chrome and is absolutely free, so you do not have to spend money on it, unlike some of the other services that require you to pay upfront. One of the best things about the service is that it stands its claims of offering a very human-like voice to keep the podcast experience natural. And to do this, it maintains the writer’s tone of writing and translates the text into voice accordingly. In addition to that, it also manages to carefully take the punctuation marks into consideration when reading out the content, which makes listening and understanding the material a pleasant experience.
So, if you are someone who reads a lot of news pieces or blog posts, but cannot keep up with it amidst your daily routine, Podcastle makes it easier for you to catch up with the latest stories without having to go through them, reading. An advantage of this approach is that by having the service playout content for you, you can stay updated with whatever it is that you wanted to read while performing other activities.
How does Podcastle work?
As its name — Podcastle AI — suggests, the service relies on AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning) in particular, which happens to be a subset of AI, to convert the text effectively into its equivalent audio. Essentially, the service is a text-to-speech generator that leverages AI to ensure the conversion is accurate, and the readout voice is as close to a human-like voice as possible. And, in turn, simplify content consumption while ensuring the listening experience is natural.
How to convert article into podcast with Podcastle?
Podcastle is fairly straightforward and easy to use. As already mentioned, the service is a Chrome extension, so the first thing you need to do is head over to the Chrome Web Store and download the extension from there. [Not to mention, you must have Google Chrome installed on your machine, as the service is currently only available on Chrome].
Once you have added the extension, click on the extensions button in the browser and pin the Podcastle extension right up front on the toolbar menu for quick access. Next, click on the extension and sign up for the service, and then log in.
Now, when you visit a website, open the article you want the extension to read out for you, and click on the Podcastle extension button. The extension will automatically grab the article. When it does, click on the Convert to Podcast button right below it. You should now see the audio equivalent for the article, presented with a bunch of controls. To play the podcast, click on the play button. Furthermore, similar to podcasts, you can perform a few different operations here as well. For instance, you can click on the button next to play/pause to set the play (or readout) speed for the podcast; seek through the podcast using the timeline; adjust volume levels, or change the readout voice’s gender.
While listening to a podcast, if you come across some other article and you want to listen to it later, you can do so by adding it to the queue. Once added, you can convert the article to a podcast and start listening to it. However, one of the shortcomings of the service is that there is no record (or history) of the articles you have previously converted and listened to. So now, if you need to listen to one of the previous podcasts again, you need to revisit the site and perform the whole process all over.
Although to simplify this equation to a certain degree, the service does offer download functionality, which allows you to download a podcast for offline access. To download a podcast, click on the download button in the extension window. The downloaded file will be saved in the MP3 format on your machine. Furthermore, if you need to share a podcast, Podcastle provides a few different share options. To view these options, tap on the share icon next to the download button. Here, you can either copy the URL or the embed link for the podcast. Or, you can also click on the social channel buttons to directly share the podcast from the extension.
Podcastle AI is available for free on the Chrome Web Store. It got featured on the ProductHunt website and was their number 1 product of the day on August 15, 2020.