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Previously, I discussed how to have your iOS device read text for you in iOS 6, and in iOS 7 it works pretty much the same way – but with some little differences.

As in iOS 6, there are two different ways to make text speakable on an iOS device. But before we do that and discuss how to do it, let’s first set up our iOS device so we can do it:

Open up Settings, tap on General, and tap on Accessibility.

Tap on Accessibility.

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The first thing to do is to turn on Speak Selection. A Speak button will now appear when you select text.

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Here you also have the option to adjust the speaking rate, how fast or how slow it is reading out loud. You do this with the slider: The turtle icon indicates slower, while the rabbit means faster.

You can also have the system highlights words as they are being read, which is a nice enhancement.

There is also a new option available called Voices. If you tap of Voices, you will see the list of different languages that are available.

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Some languages will have different dialects, whereas others will only have one dialect. For example, if you tap on English, you will see the different list of dialects: United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa. With iOS 7 you do not have the Enhanced Quality voices automatically installed into the operating system and if you want the Enhanced Quality voice, you have the option to download it. It also, tells you how big the file is. Then it downloads to your phone.

To go back to the main Accessibility Settings page, tap the Back arrow in the upper left hand corner- or new in iOS 7, you can swipe on the screen with one finger from left to right.

Scroll all the way down towards the bottom and press ‘Accessibility Shortcut’.

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Then you will tap on VoiceOver. Now whenever you click the Home button three times, VoiceOver will be enabled.

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Now that we have adjusted our settings to make text speakable on an iOS device, let’s discuss the two methods.

  1. Speak Selection. Speak selection will work in apps where you are actually able to edit, or highlight the text, such as Mail, Notes, Reminders, Messages, and Safari. For example, in Mail tap and hold a little bit of the message until you see the magnifying bubble appear. Let go. Drag the blue pin on the right so it highlights all of the text, and then press speak. It will speak out loud everything that is highlighted in blue.

Also notable is the Safari Reader function. The Reader button will appear automatically in the URL bar for most websites. However, the reader button is harder to find and is not as intuitive as it was previously in iOS 6. In iOS 7, the Reader button, is not the word “Reader,” rather it is several white horizontal lines, located in the left of the URL box.

Notice that when you are in Reader, you do not have a button to adjust the font size. That is now going to be set under Larger Type. When you tap on Reader, it removes distractions such as navigation bars and focuses on the text and media. Now if you do the same thing: tap and hold until you see the magnifying bubble appear. Let go. Drag the blue circle on the right so it highlights all of the text. Then press the Speak button. It will read out loud everything in the article without reading the site navigation system.

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2. VoiceOver. VoiceOver is a built in screen reader that will read out loud everything on an iOS device. VoiceOver works great in any of the book reading apps- like iBooks, Kindle, and Nook. You would first navigate the way you would normally navigate to the book reader app you are using and open the book you want to be read out loud to you.

Triple-clicking the Home button will turn VoiceOver on. On top of the book, do a two finger swipe gesture down on the screen. This will start reading the book out loud, and it will turn the pages automatically. To stop the reading, do a two finger, single tap on the screen to stop the reading. To continue, do a two finger swipe gesture down on the screen, on top of the book.

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When you are done reading the book, and want to turn VoiceOver off, triple-click the home button.

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3 Responses to “iOS 7 How-to: Have your iOS device read text for you”

  1. pbranham says:

    I use speak selection for news articles all the time since I am normally multitasking while consuming the news. I’m not happy about iOS 7 removing the “Select All” from reading Mail though. Similarly, in iOS 6, you could hold your finger down on text and if you let go between paragraphs in an article you were reading (worked in Safari, NYTimes, and more), it would select the entire article. Now I have to drag the endpoints – it’s way more time consuming.