I was musing the other day with a colleague on how standalone satellite navigation systems are pointless in the modern age – modern smartphones do it all. Why do you need a separate device. This is especially the case with Google Maps navigation, where you can trust the maps are up-to-date and you don’t have to pay through the teeth to ensure they stay that way. But one thing that came out of it was how you can get celebrity voices on Sat Navs. I got to wondering if you could do the same for your Android phone.
A little Googling and you’ll soon discover that the voice behind your Google Maps navigation (or anything else that reads aloud) comes from the TTS (Text-to-Speech) engine within the device. It’s a device wide voice for reading important information aloud. Google has it’s own TTS and many carriers also have different ones (Samsung for example) but there’s nothing really exciting with these. From my research, I couldn’t seem to find any celebrity voices, but if you don’t like your standard navigation voice and are looking for a change, there’s hope.
A Google search revealed this rather useful article ‘The 7 Best Android Text-to-Speech Engines‘ and in that, I found that there was a couple of apps worth trying to add some variety to my life.
The first is SVOX Classic which offers some good features, but if I’m honest I think I prefer the lovely (more human sounding) voices of Cerepoc. They cost a smidge over £1 each, but the good news is you can preview the voices by watching/listening to a short Youtube video clip. So there’s no danger of accidentally buying and installing a voice that you’re going to loathe more than the standard TTS voice.
Cerepoc also supply a couple of free voices that include Idyacy Lancashire (Claire) and Idyacy Dodo Glasgow, but frankly this really is one of those moments where you get what you pay for – you’re better off investing in a voice if you want to try it as the free ones aren’t as good quality.
For just messing around, once you’ve installed the voice you can then go into the app and get the voice to speak whatever text you enter. This has some minor entertainment value, but there’s plenty more to be had with the actual practical use.
Once you have the new TTS installed, it’s important to remember to activate it. To do this you need to goto you accessibility settings. So it’s usually something like System Settings > Accessibility > Text-to-Speech Output.
On that screen, simply select the new voice and tweak if necessary.
Congratulations, you now have a new voice to enjoy. Just don’t forget you’ve done it (like I probably will) and get confused next time you boot up your navigation app!