Amazon’s new VoiceView text-to-speech technology, as recently explained by Peter Korn (at least for Kindles) on TeleRead, doesn’t seem to have impinged much on e-reading awareness yet. Yes, it is relatively new. It also started off in a rather odd place for text-to-speech, introduced in Fire OS 5 Bellini for Fire tablets, which obviously address far more uses than simple e-reading. Perhaps that’s an obvious starting point given the hardware involved, but I imagine that Amazon’s most committed e-book reading audience still opts for Kindles rather than Fires. As a result, I suspect that not as many e-reading fans have jumped on this functionality as you’d expect – and I’d be interested to get some feedback on VoiceView usage among TeleRead readers. Still, for those of you who want to try it and haven’t, this is how it works.
VoiceView takes pride of place in Amazon’s list of Fire Tablet Accessibility features – “powered by IVONA Text-to-Speech,” with “IVONA’s award-winning natural language text-to-speech voices.” Amazon’s full “Guide to Reading Books with VoiceView” is here. You set up VoiceView initially through the Accessibility sub-menu in the Fire’s Settings. Once this is done, you can “turn on VoiceView from any screen” – just “press the Power button until you hear an alert, and then place two fingers (slightly apart) on the screen and hold for five seconds.”
The VoiceView feature list is impressively detailed. Whether it’s continuous or non-continuous reading, changing the reading voice, reading one page, paragraph, character, or word at a time, it’s pretty much all there. And as said, I’d be interested to hear how everyone’s experience of using VoiceView is, because it sounds pretty good in principle. And seeing how Amazon’s voice technology is evolving in the home automatic/digital assistant realm, with Alexa and the Amazon Echo, it won’t surprise me to see similar natural language recognition put to work via IVONA and VoiceView. Your feedback and opinions welcomed.