In December 2022, Google released the Reading Mode app for Android. It integrates with the operating system and allows users to change the way text appears on the screen, which helps people with vision impairment to read long content (such as articles on the web) more easily. This app can also convert text to speech so that such people can listen to the content on the screen rather than reading it.
Today, Google is rolling out the first major update to the app, and it brings a very useful feature. The new version (v1.1) of the Reading Mode app can continue reading a particular piece of content aloud even when a user switches to other apps or turns off the device's screen. Previously, when a user left the Reading Mode overlay, the app would immediately end the text-to-speech feature and stop reading the content aloud.
Android's Reading Mode now offers the media player widget in the notification panel
Reading Mode will now also show a media player widget in the notification panel and lock screen when text-to-speech is running in the background, which will allow users to play/pause the audio, skip to the next sentence, or go back to the previous one, and scrub the entire article from anywhere in the UI or even when the device is locked.
If you don’t want the app to play content in the background, you can turn off the feature by going to the app’s settings and toggling the Play In Background toggle. What’s interesting here is that the toggle to enable or disable the feature supports Material You’s in-head checkmark design, which shows Google’s efforts to offer a unified theme across the UI.
The latest update to the Reading Mode app is available via Google Play Store. However, the company is rolling out the update in phases, which means some people might be able to see the update in Play Store right away, while others might get it after a few days. To update the app, go to Play Store » Profile Icon » Manage Apps and click on the Update All button.