Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by Editorial Team
Text-to-speech (TTS) technology is evolving the way we communicate. This voice-computing technology converts text into an audible file, involving a process called speech synthesis. By creating a database of recorded human voices, speech synthesis trains artificial intelligence to produce natural human-like sounds. It has helped people overcome the challenges related to reading and decoding textual information.
Text-to-speech is the most cutting-edge development that has eased learning woes for students. They can have the complete textual content read out to them. It helps them refer to books and journals that were otherwise not possible to access due to challenges in reading.
Today, we can convert any amount of textual data into natural-sounding speech. Here are 7 great apps that could do just that and so much more.
Interesting text-to-speech apps for students
1. Natural Reader
Natural Reader is a sophisticated app that can neatly convert textual inputs into human-like speech. It offers multiple voices in both male and female variants. With the OCR technology well-integrated into the app, it can directly read the text from documents.
With Natural Reader, it is even more easy to create audio files for learning purposes. It allows users 20 minutes of converted audio a day. Simply paste the text or upload a document to convert it into a portable mp3 file.
Apart from having functional apps for both iOS and Android, it offers a website reading widget that developers could use to make their website readable. The widget lets your website talk.
The functionalities on the app work as well on computers as in mobile browsers. This could potentially solve the accessibility issue for many visually impaired users and enhance their engagement with the written content. The web-reader widget is available in 18 different languages, showcasing a total of 61 voices.
Many vloggers and part-time YouTubers use this software to create voiceovers for their videos. It wouldn’t be surprising to find their best-known voices while surfing the Internet.
Students could benefit from the app for many standard tasks from school. That said, its MP3 export could be instrumental to excelling in school if used the right way, especially for students with learning difficulties.
2. Capti Voice
Capti Voice was developed by professors and Ph.D. students from Charmtech Labs with the objective of providing screen-reading solutions to visually impaired individuals. The original developers have come a long way. They have transformed this simple text-to-speech tool into a universally accessible reader.
Its interface groups tasks as a playlist. You could also upload offline tracks directly from your drive or use a link to export media from major cloud services such as Dropbox and OneDrive.
There are many educational options for students. For example, you could create highlights and side notes within the app. Anyone who is working on a play could simultaneously create notes while listening to it.
We found the editing tools on the app limited and the default voice robotic, however, there are better voice options that you could switch to. The app also supports correction tools within its interface.
Both the app and its web version feature a modern interface that improves one’s reading experience and productivity. Considering its massive toolset and the functionalities that come with it, Capti Voice seems like a bang for one’s buck.
3. Speech Central
Speech Central lets you import documents, books, and web content directly to the app and reads it out loud for you.
It is a full-feature text-to-speech platform with the functionality of reading web pages. If you’re fond of articles, you could easily add news articles and listen to them at your convenience. It supports more than 27 languages and automatically detects the language from the input. It could convert textual input into an audio file and can later provide the option to edit and share.
With an integrated OCR, you could directly scan PDFs through your camera, or any document for that matter. You could even import the content from any other app, and tailor the output with more than 40 customization options.
With its accessibility features such as dyslexia-friendly fonts and shortcut commands, it is a perfect companion for students with learning disorders. It even supports Daisy’s books.
The platform is free to use.
There are many great text-to-speech apps available for iOS devices and iSpeech is a brilliantly developed example. The idea is simple here, you type the text and the app reads it back to you. Its voice synthesizing engine converts the text to audio with a single click. Apart from the other goodies, it features a Chrome extension that enables your browser to read your web content.
What’s special about the app is its natural-sounding voices in more than 30 languages. It is an open-source platform that offers software development APIs to attach to your mobile apps and website.
As per its official website, more than 80,000 developers use iSpeech Api and it generates about 100 million calls a month.
As a student, you can listen to your emails or the list of articles while you work or exercise with its auto-scrolling functionality. It can also switch to a distraction-free full-screen mode that can help you focus on what matters without the usual clutter that’s there on the other apps.
5. Google Recorder
Google Recorder can transcribe and record the voice–on the device–in real-time, with punctuations, without an internet connection. It’s mesmerizing to watch how it functions. The app can recognize different inputs with surprising accuracy, like laughter, animal sounds, and applause. It doesn’t just stop there, it tags those recognized voices in the transcription.
With a flashy waveform accompanying all your recordings, it brings the power of search to audio. You could search the transcription and switch directly to the important part of the file. Let’s say you have a lecture recording of 3 hours and want to switch to an important part where the lecturer has used the word “Paradoxically.” You could search the term and get the exact tags where the interviewer has said the word “paradoxically.” Isn’t that useful?
You could edit the audio, simply by selecting the unwanted text from the transcription. Unlike the other apps where you have to listen to the recording to make the changes. The edit and share options on the apps are pretty limited.
However, it does give you an option to share audio and text individually. From what we have seen, this is the smartest recorder that could turn audio into text. Google Recorder is arguably the most advanced recorder and transcription app. This app is available only on Pixel devices.
6. Voice Dream Reader
The app converts your documents and web pages into natural-sounding audio files directly from its modern interface. It could read anything from PDF to Word documents to PowerPoint presentations.
The app highlights the words while reading them out to the listener, which improves retention and comprehension. You could use bookmarks, and highlights and even make or export notes to your files.
Voice Dream Reader supports auto-scrolling which helps you focus on other passive activities while listening to your books and favorite articles. It also has a distraction-free full-screen mode that lets you focus on what matters. Its universally accessible interface simplifies the tasks for individuals with learning impairments. For students, it’s a great tool to read books on their Apple devices.
The app integrates well with all the major cloud services; iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, etc. The number of voices and languages it supports is astonishing. There are about 186 voices in 30 languages. Adding to that, the offline version with most of its features requires no internet connection.
It is an innovative app designed to help people suffering from speech disorders caused by diseases, learning deficiencies, or physically traumatic incidents hitting the larynx or speech generation part of the brain. It utilizes an eye-tracking technique to form words from the letters given on the in-built keyboard. Not only that, it reads out the written text to the listener too.
Another interesting feature is facial recognition in this app. Using this feature, the users can generate gestures and corresponding phrases that express their feelings most aptly. With all these innovative features, Predictable can help make a day in the life of a differently-abled individual easier to manage.
How to decide which text-to-speech app is best for you?
Let’s assume you are someone who has an abundance of reading/writing work, why would you use the keyboard if you could just dictate using the text-to-speech software?
The deciding factor on which app to prefer is based on a lot of factors ranging from text-to-speech accuracy and speed to its integrated features. Pricing of the app plays a role too, especially if more than one person is involved. You may also want to consider if the app you want to pick is available across your devices and operating systems. Because their cross-platform availability gives you the freedom to start your task on one device and continue on the other.
Almost all the apps on our list provide a decent reading experience for personal use, however, depending on your requirements, you could vouch for an app that has the unique feature you need, like an additional language.
Always focus on what you need. It could get uncomfortable using a new app for your task. However, considering the time it saves in the long run, it is worth the investment.
Recent advancements in text-to-speech technology
We have seen how technology with its exponential rate of advancement is transforming speaking and listening. Breakthroughs in text-to-speech technology happen regularly. Today, our mobile assistants, an advanced form of artificial intelligence, can hold a conversation with a human being.
Here is what happens during voice computing. First, the text-to-speech engine converts the input voice or text into a language data signal. After this, it derives the meaning of the input and understands the context to form a proper output. Text-to-speech engines are able to do that by using a mechanism called natural-language generation, which helps them create a synthetic voice as close to a human voice with its own personality and identity.
Google now has a proto-type feature that may in the future be able to take your calls and make appointments for you. The huge databases of recorded human voices enable the engines to come up with human-like voices, instead of a robotic alternative, which was the case just a few years ago. We have seen its development from its nascent stages in the assistive technology that our phones use.
Text-to-speech technology for people with a learning disability
Magazine brands like The New Yorker are already employing text-to-speech technology to make their published written content more accessible to people with learning disabilities. As per an estimation, about 15% of adults around the world are facing challenges around reading, which can easily be solved with this technology. People with dyslexia or ADHD, who want to access your content can make use of this option to hear your written pieces.
Text-to-speech also helps visually impaired individuals who find it hard to read for extended stretches of time. From podcasts to news to research papers, smartphones can today deliver a reasonably human-like voice, increasing the accessibility of the content. These valuable tools help readers maintain their engagement with the screen without being bothered by the textual material.
Today, by combining machine learning and artificial intelligence, the TTS engine can adapt to the accent and diction of the listener and make new and delightful experiences possible which were unthinkable just a year ago.
The nuances behind the spoken words are incredibly complex. There is meaning, emotion, and context behind the language we use. All those components of human language are beyond even for the most advanced computers. For machines to catch up and become more human-like, TTS technology needs to get to a point where computers can include sentiments and intonations in their responses. With the help of machine learning, today computerized speech is improving to a natural-sounding level.
The future is hands-free access to a conversational voice with which one can interact the way we interact with each other. A good app with a set of future-proof functionalities is worth investing in, considering the number of benefits it provides.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,