Google can read aloud almost any story on your Android phone


The internet is full of great written content, but sometimes you just don’t have time to read it all on your own. This is where a handy but rather hidden Google Assistant feature comes in. When you invoke the Assistant while viewing an article and say something like “Read it,” “Read this page,” or “Read it to me,” it will give you an audiobook version of the content you are viewing. see. You can even try that with the text here.

While voice control is all you need to know if you want to access the functionality quickly, there are a few things to be aware of if you want to use Read It extensively.


When you say the command, you are thrown into a custom browser designed specifically for the reading function. In this one, you’ll see the article in the top two-thirds of the interface and the reading controls at the bottom. The website automatically scrolls as it is read to you by default. You can go back and forth via the rewind buttons next to the play button or by tapping on the paragraph you want to listen to. It is also possible to adjust the playback speed to a tempo of 0.5x or up to 3.0x. Personally I think 1.2x is the sweet spot, but it depends on your preference.

When you tap on the three dot overflow menu in the upper right corner, you are presented with a few more options. You have a wide choice of alternative voices and it is also possible to turn off text synchronization if you don’t want the article to scroll as you read it. And if you come across foreign text or prefer to listen to an English article in your native language, you can use the third entry to translate text to or from dozens of languages. With recent advancements in Google Translate, you might almost think everything you read has been professionally translated.

Multimedia controls with skip backward and forward option.

Reading It becomes especially magical once you turn off your screen or open another app while reading your article. As with any audio player, you can pause, stop, and skip back and forth via a notification. When you tap it, you can also go back to the text itself, if you want to keep up with what’s being read.


There are also some limitations. The feature only works reliably in Chrome – if Firefox is your favorite app for surfing, you’ll need to copy and paste the URLs into Chrome. It also looks like a bug we first encountered a year ago again prevents you from calling the assistant in some Chromium based browsers like Vivaldi and Brave, so Read It doesn’t work there.

Likewise, Read It does not work for all applications. I’ve tried it on The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian,, and Feedly, but not all of them are compatible – you’ll have to open the respective websites in Chrome to get started. This is because developers have to add some additional code to support the feature, and apparently no one seems too interested. Since the implementation doesn’t seem that complicated, the demand is probably not there. At least it works with Google News and Google’s new custom search browser.

Left and middle: No ads thanks to Scroll, which does not refer to Read It. Right: No luck at all with NYT, for example.

Paywalls are also a problem for Read It. This is because it’s basically a separate browser with its own cookies, logins, and history, so even when you’re logged into a website like the New York Times in Chrome, the Assistant will tell you that it isn’t. cannot read text from websites that require a subscription. The same goes for Scroll, the service that removes ads from certain websites like ours for a small monthly fee. You will have to put up with the advertisements while the article is read to you. Likewise, you will see cookie privacy notices, even if you have already accepted or not in your default browser.

There you have it – while Read It is a joy to use when it works, there are some rather odd limitations, even a year after launch. If Google wants the feature to be more widely available, it needs to do a better job of making it easily discoverable for users and making it desirable for developers. Hopefully the company does it as soon as possible.

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