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Microsoft Edge browser’s Read Aloud feature will soon offer natural-sounding voices

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Web browsers with a screen-reading feature can be useful but the robotic voices aren’t always pleasant. To make the voices sound more natural, Microsoft is experimenting with cloud-powered speaking voices. This new feature will start arriving on the Dev and Canary preview builds of Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft logo. Representational image.

The Read Aloud feature in Microsoft’s Edge web browser received a lot of feedback saying that it sounded robotic and unnatural according to a blog post by the company. Using cloud-powered voices, Microsoft wants to deliver more natural-sounding voices. It will be available in two different styles including Neural and Standard voices. Neural voices are going to be powered by deep neural networks and it will be the best sounding voices. Standard voices will be a better version of the already available voices with better audio bitrate identifiable by the ‘24 Kbps’ tag.

Neural voices in Microsoft Edge browser. Image: Microsoft.

In order to use the updated Read Aloud feature, you have to download the latest preview build of Microsoft Edge from the Dev or Canary channel. After installing, open any webpage and select some text. Right-click on the highlighted text and click on “Read aloud selection”. The Read Aloud menu will open on the top where you will be able to select different voices and also change the reading speed.

Microsoft also said that it is opening up the voices in the JavaScript SpeechSynthesis API to developers. This will allow developers to work on any web-based text to speech application.

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