At CES 2020, Google previewed a new Google Assistant feature called "Read It," which reads aloud the text on webpages. Now the feature is rolling out to all Android smartphone users running Android Lollipop or higher. In the blog announcement, Yossi Matias, Vice President, Engineering, stated:
Think about how much you read on your phone every day: catching up on the news, scanning a new blog, finally reading the article that everyone is talking about. This may require reading a lot of text, which can be a barrier for people with visual or reading difficulties, or who simply need a little help reading meatier articles.
To use this feature, users need to open up their web browsers and navigate to a page that they'd like to hear read out loud. After invoking Google Assistant with the article on the screen, "Hey Google, read this page" command needs to be issued. Then the entire page will be automatically scrolled as it is read aloud. For users' convenience, words being spoken at a particular instance are also highlighted.
The feature lets users alter the reading speed and choose from multiple voices. In an attempt to imitate natural voice, human-like intonation and rhythm are used. Google will also translate content in languages non-native to the reader if they want to. Currently, the translation feature supports 42 languages.
Site owners do not have to do anything to let Google Assistant read a page, but they have an option to disable this feature if they want to.