Impressions of Pocket’s new text to speech feature
September 29, 2012 | 8:17 pm
By Jeremy Hill | for Gadget Tell
Pocket (previously known as Read it Later) released an interesting update for its Android app last week: Known as the “Listen” feature and part of the Android 4.2 update, Pocket can now read your articles to you.
It’s easy enough to use: You simply open any article you’ve previously saved, press “Listen,” and then sit back as Pocket reads the article to you, word for word.
It’s a neat update, but is it practical? Here are our impressions:
I think Google’s artificial intelligence voices are among the best in the industry. For example, the voice assistant within Google Now sounds less robotic and more natural than Apple’s Siri. However, this level of quality seems to be restricted to a sentence or two; when ‘Listen’ has to read back an article that’s comprised of several paragraphs, things become a little harder to sit through.
One thing I like about the Pocket update is the ability to skip to the beginning of paragraphs, as if you’re changing tracks on an album. I don’t like how the document dims while the audio is being played back. Since the document scrolls down as the audio goes on, I would have liked to read along without needing to keep the media controls on screen.
It’s still faster to read articles in Pocket as opposed to listening to them. Google’s artificial intelligence can’t read long stories with the cadence that people are used to. It’s almost like listening to a first grader read a book one … word … at … a … time.
(Note: As iOS doesn’t provide a text-to-speech API, this feature isn’t available to Apple users. According to a post on the Pocket blog, “as we experiment further with [the 'Listen'] feature we will continue to look at bringing it to iOS but have no immediate plans to do so. )
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