Speech synthesis or simply put, the ability to convert text into human speech has been around for years now. In its initial days, text-to-speech started as an accessibility feature to help people with disabilities to comprehend text via voice, either using hardware or software. Gradually, over the years, speech synthesis emerged into a utility for regular users that allows them to consume content in written form over audio as part of a more efficient exercise. One of the most significant examples of this approach is audiobooks, which are seeing wide adoption among the masses.
Not just that, text-to-speech utilities also make it easier for you to consume any text via audio. Doing so allows you to multitask and consume content efficiently. So, if you are an Android or an iOS user, here are our top picks for the best text-to-speech (TTS) apps that help you read your ebooks, PDFs, or other files.
Best Text to Speech Apps for Android and iOS
iTranslate is one of the popular translation apps on both Android and iOS. It started as just a translation app and then later went on to serve text-to-speech translations. So now, you can use it to input your text and have the text read aloud. You get the option to select the voice — male or female — depending on your preference. And, to ensure more people can take advantage of the service, the app supports over 100 different languages and dialects. Besides voice, iTranslate also comes with a built-in dictionary to enable quick word lookup, along with its primary utility of translating the text into different languages. What’s more, the app also has a Pro version, which extends the feature set even further with features like offline translations, Lens mode to translate using the camera, voice-to-voice conversations, among others.
As surprising as it might sound, Pocket has been offering text-to-speech functionality for a long time. The popular bookmarking app, at its core, allows you to save items like PDFs, articles, files, and ebooks to read at a later time. Thus, simplifying your life when it comes to content consumption and curation. One of the most useful, yet an underrated feature of Pocket, which a lot of people seem to be unaware of, is the ability to put the app to read out the text in a document. So, when you add any content from the internet or any other app to Pocket to read later, you can also listen to any of the bookmarked content anytime — be it during a commute, workout, or any other activity — just like an audiobook.
3. Google Text-to-Speech
Google’s Text-to-Speech is one of the oldest text-to-speech utilities on the internet. Available on Android, the Google Text-to-Speech app allows you to have any of your text read out loud. You can choose the output voice between male and female playback and can also alter the readout speed to your preference. What makes Google’s offering the best option for Android users, besides Google’s goodness, is that it has no limits to speech synthesis, so you can even read out books. In addition, the app provides an offline mode as well, which enables you to get translations done even when you do not have an active internet connection.
Download/Update Google Text-to-Speech: Android
4. Text to Speech!
Text to Speech! is a very generic name for an app that offers text-to-speech functionality. However, the same does not apply to the range of features it presents. For starters, you get the usual text-to-speech functionality with support for 82 different voices to choose from depending on your region. In addition, there is also support for 38 languages and accents to extend usability even further. But besides that, some of the other features that it offers include the option to adjust the pitch and rate of the readout, highlight spoken text, star texts as favorites, group favorites into folders, and export speech into audio files. And last, but certainly not least, the ability to use the app even when you are offline.
Price: Free (in-app purchase)
Download Text to Speech!: iOS
5. Google Translate
Google Translate is yet another service from Google that can help you with synthesizing text to voice. The app is primarily a translation app, which can translate text into 103 different languages, with features like camera translation, photo translation, conversations, and handwriting making it one of the best translation apps out there. Needless to say, all the processing prowess of Google, thanks to its vast data set. The best part is, it is completely free to use, and you can perform translations even without an internet connection. When it comes to speech synthesis (or TTS), Google Translate works accurately and adds to the ability to enter text and get output via voice. However, that said, the app is not an ideal solution for those looking for book (or any long-form text) narration. It works when you need to synthesize small bits of text.
6. Apple Translate
Much like Google Translate, Apple also has its text-to-speech offering, called Apple Translate. The app was introduced as part of iOS 14 and makes it easier for you to translate between different languages. You can use it to have conversations with people in various supported languages and can even take advantage of the functionality offline. Albeit not as effective as Google Translate, Apple Translate still offers a decent translation functionality on iOS. Besides translation, the app also gives you the ability to convert text to speech, which enables you to enter text in any language and get a voice equivalent for the same. However, similar to Google Translate, you cannot use it for long-form speech synthesis.
Available (pre-installed) on iOS
7. Narrator’s Voice
Narrator’s Voice is a fun speech synthesis app available on both Android and iOS platforms. It allows you to create narrated messages, with various effects in different languages, in return for your input. You can either speak or type-in to input, after which the app creates a narration for the same that you can playback or save locally. The app also works offline once you download the required language data. Furthermore, in case you want to get creative, Narrators’ Voice gives you a plethora of options to tweak the narration. Depending on how you like your narration, you can change the narrator’s voice, add effects, adjust volume and speed, among other things.
Those are some of the best text-to-speech apps for Android and iOS that you can use to convert text into speech on your smartphone — be it short-form content (sentences, paragraph) or long-form content (articles, PDFs, ebooks).