Back when I was using a Windows Phone as my primary device, an app named Freda was among my favorite downloads. Freda is an EPUB reader, which introduced me to voice rendering of eBooks. Since then, a lot has changed, and I have discovered many good eBook readers on iOS as well. Having said that, iBooks remains the number one choice for most users, simply because Apple has made it very easy to use, and the available features aren’t bad either. Of course, iBooks lacks the ability to read your books out loud for you. Other alternatives cost money to provide speech capabilities. Fortunately, to adorn Apple’s own book reader with reading powers, you can call upon Siri!
It goes without saying that Siri won’t convert your EPUB files into proper audio books. The reading tone remains a bit flat and you will get even the page numbers read out to you. There are a lot of positives as well though. Siri reading can work with third-party eBook readers and plays out perfectly over earphones as well. So, here is what needs to be done in order to get Siri to read out your eBooks.
Configuring Siri To Read eBooks
- Open the stock Settings app on your iDevice.
- Head to the ‘Accessibility’ section under ‘General’.
- Under Accessibility, look for Speech options.
- Turn on ‘Speak Screen’ and exit the Settings app.
- Of course, Siri will only be able to read text while the phone’s screen is on. So, to make sure you don’t have to manually keep the screen awake, change the ‘Auto Lock’ settings to Never, or a longer than usual period of time.
- Open iBooks, or the EPUB reader of your choice. Inside the book you want to listen to, swipe downwards with two fingers from the top of the screen. This will initiate Siri’s reading session.
To control and change anything about the reading, hit the white arrow to the left of the screen. The feature comes with options to pause reading, or change the rate at which words are read.
So, if you can’t afford audio books, but still want a cheaper (albeit robotic) alternative, try out the above method. The results are pretty good and you will get used to Siri’s drone soon enough.