Google Text-to-Speech is a screen reader application developed by Google for its Android operating system. It powers applications to read aloud (speak) the text on the screen which support many languages. Text-to-Speech may be used by apps such as Google Play Books for reading books aloud, by Google Translate for reading aloud translations providing useful insight to the pronunciation of words, by Google Talkback and other spoken feedback accessibility-based applications, as well as by third-party apps. Users must install voice data for each language.
|Initial release||November 6, 2013|
3.16.6 / February 20, 2019
Currently (version 3.16.6), languages supported by Google Text-to-Speech include: Bangla (Bangladesh), Bangla (India), Cantonese (Hong Kong), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (Australia), English (India), English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French (Canadian), French (France), German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Khmer, Korean (South Korea), Mandarin (China), Mandarin (Taiwan), Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Sinhala, Slovak, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (United States), Sundanese, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese.
Some app developers have started adapting and tweaking their Android Auto apps to include Text to Speech, such as Hyundai in 2015. Apps such as textPlus and WhatsApp use Text to Speech to read notifications aloud and provide voice-reply functionality.
Cloud Text-to-Speech is powered by WaveNet, software created by Google's UK-based AI subsidiary DeepMind. Since Google bought DeepMind in 2014, it's been exploring ways to turn the company's AI talent into tangible products. Integrating WaveNet into its cloud service is significant as Google tries to win cloud business away from Amazon and Microsoft, presenting its AI skills as its differentiating factor.
DeepMind's AI voice synthesis tech is notably advanced and realistic. Most voice synthesizers (including Apple's Siri) use concatenative synthesis, in which a program stores individual syllables — sounds such as “ba,” “sht,” and “oo” — and pieces them together to form words and sentences. WaveNet instead uses machine learning to generate speech. It the waveforms from a database of human speech and re-creates them at a rate of 24,000 samples per second. The end result includes voices with subtleties like lip smacks and accents. When Google first unveiled WaveNet in 2016, it was too computationally intensive to work outside of research environments, but it's since been slimmed down significantly, showing a clear pipeline from research to product.
Google Play Books (formerly Google eBooks) is an ebook digital distribution service operated by Google. Users can purchase and download ebooks and audiobooks from Google Play, which offers over five million titles, with Google claiming it to be the "largest ebooks collection in the world". Books can be read on a dedicated Books section on the Google Play website, through the use of a mobile app available for Android and iOS, through the use of select e-readers that offer support for Adobe Digital Editions, through a web browser and reading via Google Home. Users may also upload up to 1,000 ebooks in the PDF or EPUB file formats. Google Play Books is available in 75 countries.
Google Play Books was launched in December 2010, with a reseller program letting independent booksellers sell Google ebooks on their websites for a cut of sales. It also launched an affiliate program in June 2011, allowing website owners to earn a commission by referring sales to the then-named Google eBookstore. However, the reseller program ended in April 2012, with Google stating that it had "not gained the traction that we hoped it would" and "not met the needs of many readers or booksellers". The affiliate program closed for new signups in February 2012, with Google announcing that it would scale down the initiative, making it private and invitation-only.
The mobile Android app has seen several significant updates since its introduction, including different reading modes with color contrasts, support for text highlighting and note-taking, a zoomed-out view with easy page sliding in an effort to improve reading experiences for books not read cover-to-cover, a vertical scrolling mode for comic books, a "Night Light" feature that gradually filters blue light to reduce eye strain after sunset, using machine learning imaging technologies to expand speech bubbles in comics, and listening to audiobooks.
Play Books store has been noted to hold a lot of pirated content, which led Google to discontinue new sign-ups to its publisher program in 2015. The program was reopened only in 2018 when it incorporated an automated process to decline books found to contain extensive text copied from other books already in the store.Google Translate
Google Translate is a free multilingual machine translation service developed by Google, to translate text. It offers a website interface, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and an API that helps developers build browser extensions and software applications. Google Translate supports over 100 languages at various levels and as of May 2017, serves over 500 million people daily.
Launched in April 2006 as a statistical machine translation service, it used United Nations and European Parliament transcripts to gather linguistic data. Rather than translating languages directly, it first translates text to English and then to the target language. During a translation, it looks for patterns in millions of documents to help decide on the best translation. Its accuracy has been criticized and ridiculed on several occasions. In November 2016, Google announced that Google Translate would switch to a neural machine translation engine - Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) - which translates "whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece. It uses this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar". Originally only enabled for a few languages in 2016, GNMT is gradually being used for more languages.List of Google apps for Android
The list of Google apps for Android lists the mobile apps developed by Google for its Android operating system. All of these apps are available for free from the Google Play Store, although some may not show up in search results if they are listed as incompatible with your device (even though they may still function from an *.apk). Some of Google's apps may be pre-installed on some devices, depending upon the device manufacturer and the version of Android. A few of these apps, such as Gboard, are not supported on older versions of Android.List of most-downloaded Google Play applications
The list of most-downloaded Google Play applications includes most of the free apps that have been downloaded more than 500 million times and most of the paid apps that have been downloaded over one million times on unique Android devices. There are numerous Android apps that have been downloaded over one million times from the Google Play app store and it was reported in July 2017 that there are 319 apps which have been downloaded at least 100 million times and 4,098 apps have been downloaded at least ten million times. The barrier for entry on this list is set at 500 million for free apps to limit its size. Many of the applications in this list are distributed pre-installed on top-selling Android devices and may be considered bloatware by some people because users did not actively choose to download them. The table below shows the number of Google Play apps in each category.