At CES 2020, Google demoed a new preview Assistant feature that can read what’s on your phone screen in up to 42 different languages.
Screen readers aren’t new — remember Now on Tap? — but Google says it improved Assistant’s ability to detect sentences and speak naturally. In other words, Assistant should sound more human when reading to you. According to Google, the feature should work on any webpage or article; simply activate Assistant and say “read this.” It won’t work for you at the moment, however, since the feature is still in preview.
The more impressive part is the ability for Assistant to translate the text on the fly and read it in up to 42 different languages. Google has made some significant leaps in this area, such as with the Interpreter mode available on both Assistant and the company’s smart display products. Interpreter mode can listen to a conversation and automatically translate it for participants.
As for the screen reading capability, it has been part of Assistant for some time. It started as Now on Tap, which was part of Assistant precursor Google Now, and could read your screen and provide helpful tools related to what it saw. If you grant Assistant permission to read your screen, it can do a similar feature now, but the ability isn’t readily available. Users have to pull up Assistant and tap a suggested action button.
It’s possible this new reading feature could bring Google’s screen reading tech back to the forefront of Assistant. It could also prove incredibly useful for people with visual impairments, as it’d make it easier for them to access online content.
For now, however, the feature is just a preview with no set release date. Google plans to look into improvements like auto-scrolling sites as Assistant reads and highlighting the text it’s currently reading.
Source: The Verge