Jan
08
Read It with the Google Assistant: Listen to web pages


“Hey Google, read it”. “Okay. Today we’re announcing Read It – a new experience on Android that allows people to listen to web articles with the help of Google Assistant. It’ll be available on Android phones later this year on versions 5 and above.” We are constantly looking to ways in which we can use technology to help solve problems for people. With Read It, we’re actually addressing a fundamental problem which is access to information. Read It is a new feature that will allow people to listen to web pages using text-to-speech. It means that we can read long texts in a more natural sounding voice. We built Read It to be very easy to use. You just open a web page. It can be in Chrome, or in the Google app, or in Google News app and you say “Hey Google, read it,” and that’s it. Google will start reading out the page within a few seconds. Read It is available in 42 languages, which allows you to translate a web page into your language before you actually listen to it. So it allows users to listen to pages in a different language. And we use our translation services to translate the content into the target language. Our goal is to create a smooth, fast, and natural sounding experience. Today, text-to-speech is produced with neural nets, which is the tool that we use for machine learning to specifically create voices that are fit for long-form text-to-speech. We look at three different parameters: stress, intonation, and rhythm which we call prosody and is what makes a voice sound more natural. We’re constantly looking to remove barriers to enable people to get to the information they need, in the way they need it. So I think it’s really exciting that today with conversational A.I. technology we can get much closer to the mission by doing that. Helpful innovation is identifying those problems that people are having and using technologies to solve them. Over the years we’ve seen text-to-speech technology advancing to the level that now I’ll suddenly enjoy listening to as many pages in the same way that I would listen to a book. Where we’d like this technology to take us essentially we’d like to make every content accessible in whatever shape or form that is useful for us. It’s really about the opportunity to make information accessible to people in a natural way just by the ability to read to them.