Google Assistant can now read articles and other text directly from a website on any device running the Android operating system.
Google debuted the new Read It feature for its voice assistant on Wednesday, including the ability to translate the text between 42 different languages.
Google first revealed plans for the new feature at CES this year as one of several planned elements for Google Assistant. When a webpage is open on an Android device, a user can get Google Assistant to read the text by saying “Hey Google, read it.” The voice assistant is able to identify the main text of a website from the menu, the metadata, and other words on the page. The text will auto-scroll and the word being read will be highlighted as the text continues. There are multiple voices users can choose as their reading voice and they can adjust where the reading begins and the speed it is read. The reading option is automatic for websites, although webmasters can disable it if they choose. The feature isn’t innate to Android mobile apps, but developers can incorporate it into their app with Actions on Google.
Google makes a point in its announcement of highlighting how Read It could be a boon for people with visual impairment. This is the latest in a recent spate of new features from the company that leverage voice tech to improve accessibility. Last year, Google created Action Blocks to aid those with disabilities by creating pre-set Google Assistant commands and shortcuts. The company followed that up with voice cues in Google Maps directions designed to help the visually impaired. There’s also Google’s Project Euphonia, which works to train voice assistants to understand those with speech impairments.
The real-time translation also ties into Google’s strategy for its voice technology. Google Assistant has been adding accent variations and new international voices to go with the growing list of languages it speaks. Google Maps even added an option to translate and speak the name of a place and its address in the local language. Reading from a website in different languages adds another dimension to the instant translation feature, Google Assistant brought to Android devices in December.