Make Your iPhone Speak

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man with megaphone

The Speak Selection feature also comes in handy while proofreading. Writers know that proofreading is often difficult, as you have read the piece so many times while writing it. There is a sort of mental fatigue, as you have been reading the piece repeatedly with your inner voice. I usually tend to skim over the piece, sometimes missing mistakes. I find after I have written an article, having it spoken to me helps in the proofreading process. It allows me to hear the article in a different voice. Sometimes I will use a different dialect, so as to further differentiate it from my own inner voice.

The speech synthesis in iOS is actually better than the Mac. If I write an article on my Mac, I often transfer it to my iPhone or iPad to have it read to me. iOS’s Speak Selection feature works with any text you select. On the Mac, spoken selections only work with a few applications, such as Safari, TextEdit, and Pages. TextMate also has its own speech synthesis function for text, but it isn’t as good the iOS offering.

This feature is a great way to read your email when you’re on the go. I would not recommend fiddling with your iPhone while you are driving. However, if you are the type that reads email while walking, this presents a better option. Just select your email text and have it read to you by your iPhone. Now you can have your email read to you and stop bumping and stepping into things.

If you are trying to read your iPhone outdoors on a bright, sunny day, it can sometimes be difficult. Instead of squinting and trying to read it yourself, have your iPhone read it aloud. There are many other situations where spoken text comes in handy — anything from speaking on your behalf if you have laryngitis to prank phone calls. (I don’t officially recommend doing the latter.)

In addition to the aforementioned dialects, there are many other tweaks. You can adjust the speed. By default, it does tend to speak a little too fast, so you will most likely need to slow it down a little.

Beyond speaking text, there are some other accessibility features that most people will find useful. From the main accessibility menu (Settings > General > Accessibility), you can increase the size of text on the screen, route incoming calls directly to speakerphone, set the click speed of the home button, and launch various accessibility features by triple-clicking the home button. You can make your LED flash bulb blink when you get an alert. You can even tweak audio settings, such as balance and toggling stereo/mono. If you explore the accessibility features, chances are you will find something useful. I use the Speak Selection feature quite often. I have to wonder why toggling stereo/mono, stereo balance, and routing calls to directly to speakerphone are located under accessibility. The former two are audio settings. The latter is a phone setting. These settings are only under accessibility, not sounds or phone. Once again, the user experience experts at Apple have a somewhat confusing design. I suspect many iOS users have missed these features.

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