Quick Tip: Siri and Speak Screen

New in iOS 8, Speak Screen allows you to hear not only text but also interface elements such as buttons and other controls read aloud. Speak Screen is a handy feature to use on websites, ebooks and anywhere you need to have the text read aloud to you, or if you need to familiarize yourself with a layout of an app due to a vision difficulty.  The nice thing about this feature is that you don’t have to make a selection first. Speak Screen begins reading at the top of the page automatically after you activate it but you can use onscreen controls to advance the selection or to rewind, and you can also adjust the speaking speed. Also, Speak Screen will work with any of the voices you have installed on your device, including the advanced Alex voice Apple has now ported from the Mac to iOS with iOS 8.

Speak screen popover menu with options for navigation and controlling the speaking rate.

To activate Speak Screen, you use a special gesture (drag from the top of the screen with two fingers). Here is today’s quick tip: instead of using a gesture to start Speak Screen, use your voice. Siri works great for this purpose. Just bring up Siri and say “Speak Screen” and your device will start reading the current screen.

Even better, with iOS 8, you can put Siri in an always listening mode by going into Settings > Siri and enabling Hey Siri. You can then just say “Hey Siri” to start Siri (but remember that this only works when you have your device plugged in to a power source, as it drains the battery some). A great use of “Hey Siri” is to use it in combination with Speak Screen. Just say “Hey Siri, Speak Screen” and it should start reading the text and describing the onscreen controls.

I hope you find that tip useful.

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