Google is experimenting with a text-to-speech feature for Chrome’s reading mode on desktop, as reported by Android Police. I sometimes use a similar feature in Instapaper, and in Chrome, I could see it being a useful tool to listen to articles in the browser I’m already using while I work.
The feature can apparently be found in Chrome Canary, Google’s bleeding edge version of Chrome, according to X user Leopeva64. If you have the feature, you can click a play button at the top of an article you’re looking at in reading mode to have Google read the text. Leopeva64 also shared a link to a video showing off the feature on Reddit.
Chrome for desktop will also have the option to “read aloud” articles, the initial implementation of this feature (in the Canary version) is pretty basic but it works, in this link you can see a video with the feature in action:https://t.co/UMAzrWKaWo
— Leopeva64 (@Leopeva64) August 25, 2023
Based on the video, Google still has some work to do here, as the voice is robotic and it spells out a header that reads “summary” instead of just reading the word. I can’t tell you further impressions because I don’t seem to have the feature in the version of Canary I downloaded from Google’s website while writing this article. (I also learned that Chrome’s reading mode is a hidden feature that you have to enable.) And Google is late to the game on something like this; Microsoft’s Edge already offers a robust text-to-speech feature in its Immersive View for websites.
Still, if Google does end up rolling out this new text-to-speech feature widely, it could be a great option for Chrome users who prefer to absorb information through audio. Let’s just hope the company makes things sound a little less robotic.