Kindles have a text-to-speech feature that most people probably don’t know about, and the voice actually sounds fairly decent once you figure out how to get it to work, but the process of using text-to-speech is so convoluted and confusing on Kindles I doubt very many people would want to use it.
It makes you wonder if Amazon made using text-to-speech confusing on purpose just so people won’t use it as an alternative to buying audiobooks.
First off, Amazon doesn’t call it text-to-speech, even though that’s exactly what it is. They call it VoiceView, and it’s considered an accessibility feature. It’s not shown in the settings menu when reading a book like when using Amazon’s Fire tablets or with other ereaders that support TTS; it’s hidden in the main settings menu under accessibility.
Before you can turn VoiceView on, you have to turn on Bluetooth on your Kindle and go through the process of connecting a Bluetooth speaker or headphones.
Once they’re paired, the process becomes easier and you can just turn your Bluetooth device on and off to turn VoiceView on and off. In fact, you can use this as a trick to easily navigate your Kindle without VoiceView on and then once you have a book open you can turn it back on and avoid needless confusion.
The problem with VoiceView is the fact that you cannot navigate your Kindle like normal while it’s turned on because it’s an accessibility feature. You have to use certain gestures to select items on the screen while listening to them being read aloud. Just going back to the library and opening a book can be surprisingly difficult if you don’t know how the gesture system works.
The gestures aren’t very intuitive either and there are 18 different gestures to learn if you intend to navigate your Kindle using VoiceView. Yeah, 18. That’s why it’s much easier to just turn off your Bluetooth device and then navigate the Kindle normally and then turn your Bluetooth device back on when you want it to read aloud.
VoiceView will automatically turn pages as needed, and you can even read along while your Kindle reads aloud, unlike when listening to audiobooks on Kindles.
A long time ago Kindles had a regular text-to-speech feature that was easier to use but the voice was more robotic. They did away with that and replaced it with VoiceView, but they still kept the regular text-to-speech feature on Fire tablets. It works really well on them, and there are multiple voices and languages to choose from. It’s kind of odd that Kindles don’t have that option, and VoiceView supports English only so it’s more limited. If you want to use TTS often you’re probably better off using a Fire tablet.
Do you ever use VoiceView on your Kindle to read ebooks aloud?