Sunday, February 21, 2016

Pocket Can Read this Post on the Go (in lots of accents)

One thing we never have enough of is time. Eventually we will have Google self-driving cars, and then we will be able to reclaim all the time we lose commuting. But until then, Pocket provides an awesome way to safely multitask when driving, or jogging, or mowing the lawn.

Pocket is an online tool that has been around for several years, and comes in many formats including a Chrome web extension, Chrome web app, Android app, and iOS app. At its core, what Pocket does is let you save interesting articles and blog posts for later, so you can read them when you have time, all from one central interface.

Well recently I discovered a new feature that really transforms the power of Pocket… text to speech.

If you save a web article or blog post to Pocket with the Chrome web extension while on your computer, you can then open it up with the Pocket app on your mobile device and have it read aloud to you. This is a fantastic way to collect interesting articles throughout the day, then listen to them on your way home or at the gym or such.

Below are the specific directions, as well as how to get lots of additional voices to use for when Pocket reads.

Pocket Extension

First, you need to get the “Save to Pocket” Chrome web extension from the Chrome Web Store.

You can install it from here: Chrome Web Store link

Next, when you come across a web page, article, or blog post that you want to save for later, simply click on the “Save to Pocket” extension.

The article will now be saved and will be accessible later through the Pocket mobile app.

Pocket Mobile App

Next you will need to have the Pocket app install on your Android or iOS mobile device. You can install those through the links below:

When you open the Pocket mobile app you will see all of your saved articles.

  • Simply click on an article to open it.
  • Next click the menu button (in Android that is the three dots in the top right corner) and choose “Listen (TTS)” from the drop down menu.
  • Pocket will now read the saved post or article aloud.


Additional Voices

If you are using an Android device, you can now download new sets of voices for many languages, including variants for many common languages you already have.

This will give you alternate male and female voices to choose within a language.

You can do this as follows:

  • Open the "Settings" app
  • Choose "Language & input"
  • Choose "Text-to-speech-output"
  • Click the gear icon next to “Google Text-to-speech Engine
  • Choose “Install voice data
  • Now choose a language and click the download icon for any voice sets you would like to get
  • Once downloaded, you can click on the voice set to see the voices included, listen to samples, and choose which voice you would like as the default


Now with Pocket’s text-to-speech feature, you can catch up on interesting posts, articles, and stories from the day, by having them read aloud to you while you are on the go.

You can even listen to any of my Control Alt Achieve blog entries. However, if you do, I would suggest using the male voice from "Voice Set 2" of "English (United Kingdom)" as he makes everything I write sound so much more profound.

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