06
Nov
TTS-Thumb

Text-to-speech engines read text aloud, saving users from having to read it themselves. Google's TTS offering comes pre-installed on numerous Android devices, and like much of the software previously shipped as part of Android, it's now ready to spread its wings in the Play Store. Here it's available to far more users, as it can now be installed on devices that don't come with the software pre-installed (pictured below -left). In contrast, on the Nexus 5, Google TTS is apparently already installed and unremovable (pictured below - right).

TTS1 TTS3

Some devices benefit from this more than others. Galaxy Note 3 users can install Google TTS as a replacement for the less than stellar option Samsung provides. So if you've found the Note 3's default voice to be jarring and way too loud, Google's app will give you a means to tolerate using TTS again. To make the switch, just go to Settings -> Controls -> Language and input -> Text-to-speech options, and switch to Google's engine there.

TTS4 TTS5 TTS6

Now that Google TTS is available in the Play Store, we can expect to get our hands on updated versions of the software without having to wait for Android updates or new phone purchases. It's a good thing not to watch functionality like this grow stale and to see it opened up to more people. Grab it below.

Thanks Mike L, Jérémy Naegel, Huton Gergö, Always Smile, TheManii, and others!

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Paul Jewkes

    Preemptive: "Sucks...It's U.S. only..."

    Got that out of the way for you all. Now have some real discussion about the app and other things that actually matter.

    • Thomas’

      Eh? I've got the update on my German Nexus 4.

      • Paul Jewkes

        Oh I don't actually make that complaint... I just figured I would get it out of the way for those that will likely say it.

        • PhilNelwyn

          And it's a fail.

    • Nathan Borup

      ^lol

    • NathanDrago

      Yeah, like free health insurance and education ;-)

      • Freak4Dell

        "Free"

    • RitishOemraw

      Got it in the Netherlands even

  • Sven

    I thing Google Maps isn't talking loud enough. Is there a way to make it a bit louder?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Turn up the volume.

      • Tills13

        if you're listening to music, as well, it just turns both up.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          That's true. In fact, Samsung's TTS has the opposite problem - it's too loud. Which phone are you using, @524f5efc98698ad1d00e458192deee53:disqus?

          • Sven

            Had the issue on my Galaxy Nexus and also on my new nexus 5. Volume is on max but I can barely hear it, eben if I turn off my cars stereo.

          • Jose Marie Maquinay

            Bluetooth audio receiver connected to your car stereo. Guaranteed that you will hear the voice prompts.

          • Al McDowall

            Hey Sven, how are you feeling about the switch from GNex to N5? Any regrets not choosing a different phone? Seriously considering the same move, mildly concerned about battery life and speaker volume. Is the N5 at least louder/clearer than the GNex in terms of notifications/calls etc?

          • Sven Joy

            I'm really happy about it! My gNex got laggy some time after every fresh rom installation, and i really wanted something faster. Can't say anything about battery life yet, but i bought a external qi bettery to wirelessly charge it in my pocket. (posting from my main account now)

          • Morten Ulveseth

            Gnex has some weak speakers. Connect it to your car stereo ^^

        • nofearofimaginarymen

          I use power amp as my music player. It has a built in amp so you can turn that down that way when you use maps, it will be equal in volume.

          • Tills13

            I would consider that but a) powerAMP is pretty ugly and b) I use Play Music's radio All Access service.

    • kashtrey

      I think it's a known issue that has not been addressed in Android. I've had the problem intermittently and can't figure out what causes it on my Moto X. While navigating and listening to music, I'll occasionally hear the music fade out a little but the voice that should be speaking the next direction is barely audible, it's occasionally so bad that all I hear is the music "dim" and don't hear a voice at all.

      • Freak4Dell

        Same here. And sometimes if I raise the volume, it raises the media volume, and other times it raises the ringer volume. Either way, it usually ends up with either the navigation voice or the music being too loud. They really need to either fix this bug, or just separate the two like on every built-in car navigation system ever.

        • kashtrey

          It's funny because navigation volume used to be unlinked to system volume if I recall correctly. In fact, I believe that's one of the largest complaints in the support forum for this issue.

          • Freak4Dell

            Hmm...I don't remember that. I'll have to try and track down that issue on the forum and read through it.

      • http://twitter.com/JorgeBranco_aus Jorge Branco

        I have the exact same problem on my N4. I also don't always hear notifications (the music drops but nothing else plays in it's place).
        My current theory is that it stays on the same notification volume that was set when it first makes the bluetooth connection. any thoughts?

        • kashtrey

          You may be right. I'll have to test that theory out.

  • Christopher Heuer

    I can't imagine that the copy of Google TTS on the Nexus 5 is non-updatable. I'm showing version 2.4.3.893803 on my Nexus 5, where the Play Store version is 2.4.3.864779. Kind of hard to update to an older version, wouldn't you say?

    • http://bertelking.com/ Bertel King, Jr.

      I would say. Removing that bit.

    • Adam Zweimiller

      I came here to say the same thing. There is no uninstall button because it is a system app. There is no update button because it is the same or older. There is no open button because there is nothing to open or run. I bet an update button appears when there is a newer version :-)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Exactly right. I don't recall seeing an app like this in the Play Store before, usually you can do at least something, but in this case, you can't update (until there's an update), you can't disable, you can't run, and you can't uninstall. The perfect storm.

  • Adrian Suri

    Thanks,.

  • creator78

    my verizon lg g2 just updated 30 mins ago

  • Defenestratus

    damnit I literally bought the SOX engine about 3 days ago because the Note 3's TTS was terrible and you couldn't actually download any of the language packs for it.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Out of curiosity, why couldn't you? I ended up going the Samsung route, which was a hefty 80+MB download, and while not ideal (it was way too loud compared to all other sounds and made me deaf when I was driving and listening to music or podcasts), it was heaps better than the default piece of shit voice.

      See attached pic from the Samsung Apps store.

      Edit: A downvote? For saying this?

      • Tuan Ankh

        Haters are gonna hate.
        There are quite a few Samsung haters here. That's why.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    This fixes one of my pretty major gripes about the Note 3. Awesome.

    I can't believe Samsung ships no high quality TTS with the Note 3 and expects users to sign up for Samsung Apps and install it from there. Even the S4 has it preinstalled. Sometimes I don't understand these companies...

    • Justin W

      Agreed... I was wondering why the voice was so hideous compared to my Nexus 4/HTC One, and this fixes it... Thanks!

    • Primalxconvoy

      I wouldn't know; the first thing I did when I got my note 2 was to disable all of the Samsung apps.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        The Note 2 didn't suffer from this.

        • Primalxconvoy

          It suffered from Google tts though.

  • Dave Harper

    The UK English voice has also changed back to a woman from the well spoken man.

  • Adam Truelove

    Those Touchwiz screenshots make me cringe.

    • Bobby Phoenix

      I love the TW launcher/look. :-)

      • David Margolin

        I will follow you and I will downvote you to hell.

    • Justin W

      The notification shade is pretty bad too. I've never seen something so hideous, and the worst part is I can't change it without rooting/ROMming. Most of the other stuff I can get rid of.

      • janellavew231

        мʏ ƈʟαѕѕмαтɛ'ѕ ɛх-աιғɛ мαĸɛѕ $74 αɴ нօυʀ օɴ тнɛ ƈօмքυтɛʀ. ѕнɛ нαѕ вɛɛɴ ʟαιɖ օғғ ғօʀ тɛɴ мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн нɛʀ քαʏƈнɛƈĸ աαѕ $17049 ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тнɛ ƈօмքυтɛʀ ғօʀ α ғɛա нօυʀѕ. ғιɴɖ мօʀɛ ιɴғօʀмαтιօɴ fox200&#46com

      • Kidd_Funkadelic

        Root is all you need. Xposed framework allows some decent modifications to clean it up so it's not hideous.

    • mechapathy

      Literally Hitler.

    • MvP77

      Installed an AOSP theme and I'm much happier with my Note 3 now.

  • Mikka

    Get Ivona from Google Play while it's free. One of very few tts that sounds human.

    • Primalxconvoy

      And the British one actually sounds British.

      • Jurk

        I tried it once, you can only use the British accent voice if you set your system language to English (UK).

        Unless they've fixed that.

        • Primalxconvoy

          I think ivona only allows one speech pack. I tried installing the Welsh voice after the English one and still got the English voice.

    • BenMi

      It might be of interest for many of us, why Ivona needs access to my passwords and stuff? I will not install it until someone can show me that this is nothing but spyware ;)

  • http://jamieellis.co.cc/ Jamie Ellis

    Time to consider:
    1. Component Updater Tool
    2. More Google App Publishers (e.g. "Google Play", "G-Apps Apps/components")

    The current Google one is in my opinion needs a spring clean and is a right mess. Multiple "components" such as alternative (non latin) keyboards along with Web Google Services (e.g. Google Drive and Keep), Google Play, US Only Apps (e,g. Wallet) and exported to Play Store based G-Apps/Components (inc. Calendar and Text to Speech).

    Also not forgetting those such as Google Play Services that install in the background!

  • Gator352

    Are you all aware that in the Samsung's app store, there is a Samsung HD TTS upgrade? It blows the hell out of Googles. Sorry...Google's is horrendous.

  • marty45714

    It looks like this has been pulled from the Play Store. Can anyone else confirm and find out why?

    • SHeadius

      Works fine here, but I did have issues where the Store did not recognize my login and it took me a bit to get it to do a push install to my phone. It auto-installed on my nexus 7 2012 last night.

      Try it again, I think the Play Store is simply having issues in general.

  • fjleon

    can anyone tell me how to get that little download/upload meter thing shown on the upper right section of the pics?

  • Mark Peterson

    Using the Google TTS seems to use the 'robotic' TTS and not the 'Google Now' TTS :(

  • deltatux

    Too bad it doesn't work on Android 2.x device, my in car GPS is an older Android 2.x device and would love to use Google TTS instead of Pico TTS.

  • Chris Caldwell

    I have the N5, and the TTS is pretty good. I get bored with the standard speech speed and prefer it set to 'rapid', but its a bit buggy. When navigating about 1 in 5 directions (seemingly randomly) are given at standard speed instead of 'rapid', so it looks like its not fully integrated.

  • Primalxconvoy

    No thanks, Google. Your tts always speaks in an American voice even though I set it to British.

    I'll stick with ivona and the British addon, thanks.

    • Virtualtech

      I shall also stick with IVONA voices. There are more languages available on Google Play to choose from and based on user reviews, the quality of their voices is better.

  • Chaosprower

    I installed this on my 2012 Nexus 7 and I can confirm that the Spanish (for Spain) voice now sounds much more natural, the previous one had an ackward intonation at the end of every sentence.

  • Telus

    I hope TTS languages (if good enough) from Google Translate will make their way into the Google TTS for Android.

  • Andy Stetson

    Thank you, Google! I can finally dump IVONA!

  • Pookimonster

    I am running on a note 3 and installed the google tts app and made this active over the samsung option, however when running google maps navigation, i still get that horrible samsung voice. please help!!!