Text-to-Speech on iPhone: How to Set It Up and Use It

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It’s possible that you find reading news articles, blog posts, and books to be more enjoyable than listening to them get read aloud. However, there are still instances when listening to information you would normally read becomes important. 

For instance, when cleaning, working, walking, driving, or engaging in other tasks that call for a little multitasking, it’s pretty easy to listen rather than actively read any bit of information. Doing this gets much easier with Apple’s text-to-speech service – called Speak Screen – which is available on your iPhone.

Text-to-Speech on iPhone: How to Set It Up and Use It

If you don’t know how to set up and use Apple’s text-to-speech feature, we’ll show you in this guide. Make sure to note every helpful tip we provide and follow instructions correctly.

What is Speak Screen?

The built-in accessibility feature Speak Screen, intended for people with vision impairment, can read on-screen material to you aloud. However, anyone with an iPhone is free to utilize them however they see fit, much like many other accessibility tools.

Basically, with Speak Screen, you can instruct your iPhone to read aloud any text it notices on your current screen. In apps that enable it, it can even turn pages automatically and continue reading aloud. With this option, you won’t need to purchase an Apple News+ subscription or use services such as Speechify any longer to listen to audio content. 

There’s also no need to spend a ton of money on audiobooks, as long as you already have the text-based version. This is because Speak Screen will let you automatically convert all of your e-books to audiobooks — easy and cost-free.

How Do I Use Speak Screen to Change Text-to-Speech?

The following steps will help you set up Speak Screen on your iPhone device, and use its text-to-speech conversion:

Step 1: Visit the “Accessibility” menu in the Settings app. Toggle on “Speak Screen” after selecting “Spoken Content” in the Vision area. If you want to use the function right away, that is all you need to do for the time being.

Step 2: To have your iPhone read you a book, PDF, or article, open it first. Then, swipe downwards with two fingers starting at the top of the screen. An alternative is to say “speak screen” to Siri or Hey Siri.

You can adjust the speaking pace, pause, resume, or stop the reading, as well as move ahead or backward, while Speak Screen is activated. Even better, you can activate “Speak on Touch” by clicking the finger button first, then clicking the text you want to hear. Usually, this will cause the program to begin reading at the start of the paragraph you touch.

If you don’t engage with the Speech Controller for a few seconds, it will automatically hide. The back button can be used to manually hide it as well. The Speech Controller will be removed and Speak Screen will be canceled.

Step 3: If you’ve ever used the AssistiveTouch feature on an iPhone, you’re probably familiar with how the AssistiveTouch button always shows at the top of the screen, ready for use whenever you are. The button may be moved, and when not in use, its opacity can be set to a level that prevents you from being distracted from what you’re doing.

The AssistiveTouch button’s setup is the same for the Speech Controller. Toggle on “Show Controller” by going to Settings -> Accessibility -> Spoken Content -> Speech Controller.

Step 4: Similar to AssistiveTouch, you can also click “Idle Opacity” and tweak the slider setting. However, the opacity only goes as low as 5% instead of AssistiveTouch’s lowest 15%.

Speech Controller only offers the double-tap and long-press gestures, whereas AssistiveTouch offers three gestures (single-tap and double-tap, as well as long-press) to expedite specific activities.

You can select the area of the screen where you want your iPhone to speak out loud by double-tapping the Speech Controller button, which activates Speak on Touch by default. All of the text on the screen will be read with a lengthy press. If you don’t like the triggers, you can switch them out or turn them off.

Step 5: If you don’t like the talkback voice, you can change it. You can view a list of all the supported languages by selecting “Voices” under Settings -> Accessibility -> Spoken Content. Tap the language you want, then select the voice name for the relevant dialects to preview and/or download them. Each language has its unique set of accessible voices. After downloading, tap it once more to choose it and leave the menu.

Step 6: Another option to activate through Settings -> Accessibility -> Spoken Content is the “Highlight Content” feature which — while using Speak on Touch — displays a brief border around the chosen piece. When speaking the entire screen, it will underline each word as it is uttered.

Once enabled, you can decide whether to underline just words, just sentences, or both words and sentences. You may also change the highlight style for sentences from underlining to background color and choose new colors for both words and sentences.

Counting English, Arabic, Bangla, Basque, Chinese, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Italian, Japanese, and many more, Spoken Content is available in more than 60 languages and regions as of iOS 16. So, feel free to customize the voice to your preferences.

Note that depending on which column the reader notices first, PDFs with columned text may occasionally be read out of order. When that occurs, try the Speak on Touch function. 

To reduce the number of adverts, buttons, and other distractions that may be read aloud, enable ad blockers, reader views, and other reading tools that are available in apps and on websites.

In summary, you can enjoy all the information you would normally read in audio form by simply taking advantage of Apple’s text-to-speech feature. We’ve provided instructions for how to set it up in this guide, so make sure to follow them correctly.

Also, don’t forget to recommend this guide to anyone you think might be in need of it, you never know who you might be helping.

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