Does iPad VoiceOver Work With Google Books?

When using VoiceOver’s distinct gestures on the iPad, practice makes perfect.
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With VoiceOver activated, your iPad will speak or describe anything you touch on the screen -- including the EPUB-formatted e-books within your Google Play e-reader application. You need only learn a few new gestures and perhaps tweak a few settings to enjoy listening to these e-books as they are read out loud.

1 Activation and Access

Tap a book in your Google Play app's library, then quickly press your Home button three times and choose “VoiceOver” from the accessibility options that pop up. If VoiceOver doesn't appear as an option, manually turn on the feature under "Settings | General | Accessibility | VoiceOver” or reconfigure your Home button shortcut by tapping "Settings | General | Accessibility | Accessibility Shortcut | VoiceOver.” You’ll immediately hear your iPad’s voice once VoiceOver is activated. To deactivate it, triple-press the Home button again or turn off VoiceOver in Settings.

2 Reading Techniques

VoiceOver audibly reads one paragraph or page at a time in a Google Play book; simply tap on a paragraph or swipe two fingers vertically over an entire page to hear it. With a downward two-finger swipe, VoiceOver can also start reading forward from a selected paragraph, but it will not flip pages as it does in other e-book reader apps, such as iBooks. In Google Play, you must flip pages manually by swiping left or right with three fingers, then prompt VoiceOver to start reading again. To stop VoiceOver from reading, tap the screen with two fingers.

3 Voice Quality Adjustments

You can configure the iPad's synthesized voice to sound more pleasant and understandable. Touch “Settings | General | Accessibility | VoiceOver” to get to voice quality controls. Here, you can adjust the Speaking Rate slider toward a rabbit or turtle icon for faster or slower speech. You can tap “Language and Dialects” to hear Google Play e-books read in a more familiar dialect – for instance, British English instead of American. Toggling the “Compact Voice” switch to the on position on an older model iPad can help VoiceOver read with fewer pauses. On newer models, switch on "Enhanced Quality" instead under "Settings | General | Accessibility | VoiceOver | Languages & Dialects | Default Dialect” to enjoy optimal voice quality.

4 Format Constraints

Google Play books come in two formats that you can readily read on the iPad -- EPUB and PDF -- but only EPUB books can be read out loud using VoiceOver. EPUB books provide your iPad with what Google calls flowing text, which VoiceOver capably recognizes and converts to speech. Conversely, PDF books are made up of scanned pages that preserve original books’ layout and formatting; VoiceOver can't decipher the text and therefore can't read the books. Some Google Play e-books carry both formats; tap the "Aa" icon atop an e-book’s page to enable Flowing Text formatting before summoning VoiceOver. You can scroll to an e-book’s Additional Information section in the Google Play bookstore to confirm its format before downloading it for use with VoiceOver.

Since 1988, Diana Faustmann has been writing on technology, business and culture. Her articles have appeared in various print publications, corporate websites and authoritative online sites. Faustmann holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of the Philippines.