Google reveals a revamped read-aloud feature in major accessibility update

Google Chrome logo displayed on an iPhone X screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock / BigTunaOnline)

As Microsoft continues to enhance its user experience with new features, Google is playing catch-up and copying Edge’s homework by introducing a new-and-improved read-aloud feature to Chrome. 

The read-aloud feature is currently available in the Canary test build of the browser for developers and Chrome enthusiasts, so there’s no knowing right now when we’ll see it reach the public build. It currently only allows Chrome users to control the speed at which articles and webpages are read, but more options could be added before its public release.

According to Bleeping Computer, future updates could potentially allow users to switch between different voice options, which could make for an interesting and rather immersive listening experience, particularly if Google could offer different reading ‘personalities’ - perhaps something similar to TikTok’s different voiceover options, which can add completely different vibes videos.

Listening to articles like a podcast!

The read-aloud feature will also have a visual element in that the sentence being read will be highlighted as it’s being ‘spoken’, to ensure you can keep track of where you are and not get lost. This is an easy feature to overlook; screen readers aren’t solely used by the fully blind, but also by partially-sighted people and users with conditions such as dyslexia. 

While this is a step in the right direction, Chrome still has some work to do to reach Edge’s pretty impressive immersive screen reader experience. AI-powered, the reader lets you listen to content at your own pace while you’re performing other tasks. My favorite part of Edge’s read-aloud feature is the ability to choose between different voices and accents!

Hopefully, the new version of the feature will quickly move from Canary to the public version of Chrome, as it’s an important accessibility feature that will definitely be welcomed on the browser. 

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).