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Chrome for Android is getting its own ‘Listen to this page’ TTS

3 months ago 89

Besides “Read aloud” on the Pixel 8 and Android’s underrated “Reading mode” app, Google Chrome is working on a built-in “Listen to this page” TTS capability.

Once enabled, going to Chrome for Android’s three-dot overflow menu (which continues to grow) reveals a new “Listen to this page” option. This launches a miniplayer with a circular play/pause button at the left, page title, site name, progress bar, and close button. 

Tapping reveals a sheet UI with a full timeline scrubber that notes article length, as well as rewind/fast forward buttons. You can also adjust playback speed (0.5x, 0.8x, 1x, 1.2x, 1.5x, 2x, 3x, and 4x), while the other button at the right lets you enable/disable “Highlight text & auto scroll” and choose a different voice.

The miniplayer will remain docked as you open other tabs. Playback continues if you lock your device and Chrome is still at the forefront. However, closing the browser to go back to your homescreen (or another app) will end TTS, which is the exact same (limiting) behavior as Read aloud on the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro.

The “Read Aloud” flag says this feature is just for Android. It appears in Chrome 120, but version 121 (currently in beta) is required to get “Listen to this page” to appear in the overflow menu. 

chrome://flags/#read-aloud

This upcoming capability is different from Android’s system-level “Read aloud” feature that’s available in the toolbar when you highlight text in any app, not just Chrome. That should be part of Android Accessibility.

On a somewhat related note, Chrome 120 for Android has switched from a “Simplify page” bar to an inline button next to the Omnibox. It has the unfortunate effect of replacing your preferred toolbar shortcut. (Thanks, Petar)

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