Microsoft’s Edge browser has a neat feature you might not have been aware of: it can read websites out loud for you. Handy as either an accessibility feature or if you’re busy doing something else, the read aloud function is one of my favorite little features in Microsoft’s browser. Now Microsoft is making it significantly better, adding cloud-powered voices that sound less like a 50’s-era robot and more like a modern voice assistant.
The feature is available in the latest developer and canary builds of Edge – that is to say, the new Chromium-powered version. When you select some text, right click it, and tap ‘read aloud selection,’ you’ll be able to choose from a variety of voice options.
While some of these still sound robotic, others are powered by neural networks, making for “the most natural sounding voices available today.” It requires an internet connection – the voice will have ‘online’ in its name, but if you’re browsing the web in the first place, that probably won’t be much of a problem.
The new drop-down list of voices also makes it easy to select languages other than English, although only a few of these support neural text-to-speech at the moment. Last, Microsoft’s added higher resolution versions of some of its voices, although these also require an internet connection.