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Google launches screen reader and translation tools for Android phones

CNET logo CNET 3/4/2020 Richard Nieva
a bunch of items that are sitting on a table: The new speech feature is coming to Android phones. Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET The new speech feature is coming to Android phones. Sarah Tew/CNET

Google on Wednesday said it's launching new speech and translation tools for Android phones. 

The new feature lets Google's Assistant software read long-form text out loud. The tool is meant mainly for listening to articles, blog posts and short stories on the web. Google said the technology is different from other screen-reading software because it's meant to read stuff in a natural-sounding voice and cadence, so people won't have trouble listening to the audio for longer periods of time.

a bunch of items that are sitting on a table: Google headquarters in Mountain View, California © Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

The tool can also translate those articles in real time so you'll hear them spoken out loud in a different language than they were originally written. To use the feature, pull up an article or blog post and say either "Hey Google, read it," or "Hey Google, read this page." Google first showed off the feature, which is available in 42 languages including Spanish and Hindi, at CES in January.

Google has made a big push in natural language and translation technology. In January, the company unveiled a feature that'll let people use their phones to both transcribe and translate a conversation in real time into a language that isn't being spoken.

Last year, the company introduced an interpreter mode for the Google Assistant, which lets people speak back and forth in two different languages. The tool was at first available only on smart displays, but in December Google brought the feature to phones. 

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