The second developer preview of Android N, the next big release of Google’s mobile operating system, comes with a neat update to the settings for Google’s core text-to-speech engine. There are now sliders that allow you to fine-tune the speech rate and pitch of the voice.
They let you make the recently improved Google voice speak more slowly or quickly, at a squeaky high pitch or at a firm low pitch. The update should be particularly welcome to visually impaired users who rely heavily on audio output features, such as the TalkBack accessibility feature. But this voice element is also present in things like Google search.
“This is an example of speech synthesis in English,” the voice says when you tap the “listen to an example” button on the text-to-speech output menu in the accessibility section of Android N’s settings. The voice can sound very patient or very hurried, depending on the settings you choose.
These controls are more granular than what Google exposed in Android Marshmallow: a set of choices for speech rate that ranged from “very slow” to “fastest,” as Android Police pointed out. And they’re more flexible than the VoiceOver speaking rate slider setting that’s available in iOS 9’s accessibility settings.
The launch of this accessibility update comes a few days after Google first talked about the Voice Access app for Android that lets people control their devices with voice commands.