My Voice allows you to communicate when you struggle to do so verbally – but how does it work? If you’re interested in some light technical detail, read on! This is part 1 of a series of posts delving into the inner workings of My Voice (Text To Speech).
Use of Text To Speech (TTS) Engines
My Voice uses a Text To Speech (TTS) engine to synthesize text into speech on your device. Normally, there is a TTS engine pre-installed on your Android device, and you can download additional engines to get access to more voices. Read our blog post to see how you can get more voices in the My Voice app!
Engine Timing Data
My Voice (Text To Speech) makes use of something called Timing Data to function. Timing data is something encoded within your TTS engine, that enables us to see which word is currently being spoken. Using this data, we’re able to highlight currently spoken words and sentences, as well as add in pause and resume functionality to speech.
You may notice that depending on your device and your TTS engine, that My Voice highlights sentences rather than words. This is because not all TTS engines and devices provide timing data. In cases where this is not provided, we break your text down into small chunks based on delimiters (the symbols ‘?,!.’) and synthesize each chunk separately. This enables us to highlight the currently spoken chunk, rather than individual word.
My Voice’s new volume settings is an innovative way to handle control of volume with the app.
By default, when text is spoken on your device using text to speech, it is played on the MEDIA channel. This channel is also used by other media on your device, such as music and videos. If we allowed you to set the volume of speech within the app, it would also change the volume for all other types of media – and this could get annoying pretty quickly.
We found that users were not asking for finer volume control – they were simply stating that in some cases the output was not loud enough, and they couldn’t work out how to change just the media volume on their device. In fact, the physical volume keys on some devices only changed the ringtone volume of the device – which uses a complete different channel to text to speech output – so they couldn’t turn My Voice up easily.
My Voice’s new ‘Max Volume’ feature enables text to speech to be spoken at maximum volume, all the time. When this feature is turned on, My Voice records the previous volume before speaking, so it can restore this once speech is complete. Your words are spoken at the maximum possible volume, and then your media volume is immediately set back to its original value. Do you like this feature? Let us know in the comments below.
What does the My Voice app NOT do?
Whilst there’s plenty of stuff that My Voice can do for you, there are also some common misconceptions about what the purpose of the My Voice app is. To help, we’ve outlined some of the things that My Voice does not do for you below.
Speak in your own voice / allow you to bank your voice
My Voice is not a Voice Banking application, and as such it does not automatically speak text in your own voice. It’s not possible to record and bank your own voice with My Voice (Text To speech), so if you’re looking for that functionality – we’re sorry!
The good news is, if you DO choose to bank your voice, you will be able to use that banked voice as a TTS engine with My Voice – so whilst we don’t offer the ability to do this, we do fully support using it within the app.
Allow reading of documents & websites
My Voice does not yet support the reading of documents such as PDF or Word files, or websites. To be clear, this is a feature that we may look to add in the future, but it is some time away from seeing the light of day.
There are a few apps with similar functionality that DO support reading documents and websites aloud using your chosen voice, so if this is something you are looking for then we recommend you try some alternatives on the Google Play Store.
Reading of Audiobooks, Epub books or other book formats – ish
Directly reading Audiobooks, Epub books and other digital book formats is not something that is supported in the My Voice app. This is not something we plan to support in the future, however if it’s something you’d really like to see then let us know in the comments!
we say ISH here, because some users do use My Voice for this purpose. The talk is slightly cumbersome, as you would need to copy / paste each chapter into the app. Fortunately, our Categories and Favourites system makes this somewhat easier, and recent improvements mean that text of any length can now be spoken aloud – so if you really want to use My Voice for this, then you can!
Look out for Part 2 of this series, coming soon.