Text-to-speech is one of those little pieces of an operating system that not many people use, but which is indispensable for those who do. Now if your first language is Japanese, you've got the option to play out text on your phone with Google's first-party Text-To-Speech (TTS) engine. The relevant app is on the Play Store and was updated today, so you might not have immediate access to it thanks to Google's rollout system.
Google's Text-to-Speech app isn't exactly one that grabs headlines, but it's certainly useful for those who rely on it. Today it gets a little more useful as Google has added a handful of languages for its speech output support. The latest update adds support for selecting and speaking text in Dutch, Polish, and Russian, and better support for at least some dialects of English spoken in India has been added as well.
I love Update Wednesdays, and today we've already seen pretty decent updates to several Google apps. As you've already seen, Google Play Games was updated to v1.5, but the one I'm excited about the most is, without a doubt, Google TTS v3.0, which made a jump today from v2.4.
So, what's so cool about TTS 3.0?
First and foremost, Text-to-Speech 3.0 adds support for high quality voices.
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).
Improving on existing TTS technology, Loquendo (a Nuance company) is showing the world that "even computers can show their feelings," with a huge array of TTS engines that are not only more advanced, but significantly more dynamic than existing alternatives.
The bad news is that only two of these engines are currently available for Android – Italian TTS Paola and American English TTS Susan. That being said, we can still hope that more of Loquendo's engines will be adapted for Android, and, in the meantime, Loquendo's website has amazing demos of all its TTS voices, both static and interactive.
A fresh version of Google Translate hit the Market today. Conversation mode (direct speech to speech translation) now works in 14 languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian and Turkish. Also new is a personal dictionary, the ability to correct voice input before having it translated, and pinch zoom support for getting a close up of the translated text (Chinese symbols can get surprisingly complicated).