With the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, Assistant gained a new “Read aloud” feature that uses the “same text-to-speech model that Google uses in data centers.” It’s meant to be a showcase of Tensor G3 improving the Pixel’s speech capabilities.
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In reviewing the phones, we quickly bumped into limitations like how text-to-speech (TTS) stops if you leave Chrome. While you can navigate to other tabs (in the browser) or turn off the screen and have playback continue, this general multitasking restriction is quite annoying.
Assistant’s previous Read aloud command, which is still available on other Pixel and Android devices, does not have that limitation.
Despite the name, it has full TTS capabilities that work in the background following an update earlier this year. Like the original Read aloud (but not the Pixel 8 version), you can follow along on the screen. With only 100,000+ downloads on the Play Store, Reading mode feels like a hidden gem.
As the name suggests, providing a simplified, clutter-free reading experience is the main appeal of this app, which is a standalone download from Google Play. Visual customization options include the font, text size, line spacing, and bolding, as well as background color.
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