Previously, I discussed how to have your iOS device read text for you in iOS 7, and in iOS 8 it works pretty much the same way – but with some little differences. It is now easier to set up and make text speakable on an iOS device. Before we discuss how to do it, let’s first set up our iOS device so we can do it:
Open up Settings, tap on General and tap on Accessibility.
Then tap on Speech.
The first thing to do is turn on Speak Selection. A Speak button will now appear when you select text. Also turn on Speak Screen, as that will easily allow you to hear the content of the entire screen by swiping down with two fingers.
Here you also have the option to adjust the speaking rate, how fast or how slow it is reading out loud. You do this with the slider: the turtle icon indicates slower, while the rabbit means faster.
You can also have the system highlight words as they are being read aloud, which is a nice enhancement for those who are learning how to read, or have a reading disability.
If you tap on Voices, you will see the list of different languages that are available.
Some languages will have different dialects, whereas others will only have one dialect. For example, if you tap on English, you will see the different list of dialects: US, Australia, UK, Ireland, and South America. Alex is new to iOS 8 and it sounds natural. With iOS 8 you have the Enhanced Quality voice for the region you have set the device up to. For the other dialects, you have the option to install the Enhanced Quality and it will tell you how big the file is.
Now that we have adjusted our settings to make text speakable on an iOS device, let’s discuss the two methods.
1. Speak Selection. Speak selection will work in apps where you are actually able to edit, or highlight the text, such as Mail, Notes, Reminders, Messages and Safari. For example, in Mail tap and hold a little bit of the message until you see the magnifying bubble appear. Let go. Drag the blue pin on the right so it highlights all of the text or press Select All. Then press speak. It will speak out loud everything that is highlighted in blue.
2. Speak Screen. The Speak Screen method is new in iOS 8, and it makes it easier than ever to have and use text-to-speech. To have the screen read out loud to you, swipe down with two fingers from the top to the bottom. I found that when swiping, it is more effective to spread your two fingers apart to do this so that way you do not accidentally pull down Notification Center.
When you activate Speak Screen, you now have a ghost-like menu that is reminiscent of Assistive Touch. With this menu you have options to adjust the speaking rate – with the turtle icon indicates slower, while the rabbit icon means faster, have the ability to rewind, fast-foward, pause it or totally close the listening by pressing the X in the upper right hand corner. The content can be read even outside of what it is you were listening to.
For example, with Safari you are able to do this method while using the Reader function, or without using the Reader function. The Reader button is made up of several horizontal black lines, located in the left of the URL box.
When activating Speak Screen in Safari, without using the Reader function, it will read to you everything on the screen. What I mean by everything is, the HTML coding on the screen that makes links like “main menu,” “search,” “subscribe,” “login,” “style,” speakable all before getting to the article. Whereas if you use Reader in Safari, Speak Screen will just read the enter article.
Speak Screen works great in any of the book reading apps – like iBooks, Kindle and Nook. It will automatically turn the pages of the books and keep reading it to you.
Speak Screen is different from VoiceOver in that VoiceOver is a true screen reader that will read out loud everything on an iOS device. It is designed to make it easier for people with low vision or who are legally blind able to access and use the iOS devices. For example, VoiceOver will read the names of all the apps on the home screen, whereas with Speak Screen it will not and result in an error.