When iOS 5 was released alongside the iPhone 4S, much of the talk was about Siri and other voice-related technology built right into the operating system. The option to speak into your iPhone and have it either translate that speech to text, or act upon your instruction is obviously super cool, but there’s one speech-related feature that’s slipped under the radar.

iOS 5 has a new accessibility option that allows iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users to have their text read back to them…

The toggle switch for text-to-speech is hidden inside the General > Accessibility section of your iDevice’s Settings app, and goes by the name of “Speak Selection.” You can also change how quickly the text is read via a slider.

Once activated, tapping on any text to select it will bring up the option to have it read to you via the new “Speak” button.

The quality of the voice Apple has used is surprisingly good, though they haven’t chosen to use the same voiced used for Siri.

Couple this with a long blog post saved in Instapaper and you might never need to read anything on your iPhone again, though we’re not necessarily sure that’s a good thing!

  • Krystle

    Does this only work on the 4S?

    • Parker

      Nope it’s a feature of iOS 5

  • Gam3rzDude

    can you change the voice?

  • Al

    No, it works with all devices..

  • DeanyDeany

    ….but not in Instapaper?!?

  • Thor

    Very useful. Thanks for posting.

  • Prplaya420

    Now I they could just make a speak to text 🙁

  • Dude

    Tnx man i didnt knew that !

  • Goofygreek

    I don’t see how this could be very useful in the iPad. Would work great for the iPhone while driving, but other than that, it isn’t gonna really help. Besides, you have to highlight the whole thing which doesnt make it convenient at all.

  • Linda Vich

    Having text read to you is a great feature.

    • Linda Vich

      This is a great feature for writers because it allows you to “hear” overused words, awkward phrasing and similar length sentences.

  • Jreis

    This is a great feature to use for those of us who still write their Grocery lists in “Notes” and want to have it read back to you? Options huh gotta love it! I’ll tell you what I love just about everything i’ve run into with iOS 5 except for it’s battery issues but for know very pleased!!

  • Madhatter

    Wow, this works very well…. it also works in other languages. I wrote a note in spanish a the voice changed, it’s a little sexier haha,… but it was flawless. I am very impressed. It does not sound tooo robotic, that is excellent.

  • Colin

    My mate and I completed the upgrade. My voice is a female, his is male. Can this be changed?

  • Jason

    would be even better if you could you could use the Voice Control functionality, i.e. “Read this”

  • Jason

    also, it “dims” the music if you have it on but leaves it playing in the background – very nice

  • Alvaro Suarez

    Can it speak PDF files inside of iBook?

  • Alvaro Suarez

    Can it speak PDF files inside of iBook?

  • No, but it can speak iBooks in iBooks.
    This since you’re unable to select text within PDFs in iBooks.

  • There’re apps that can read PDF files using text-to-speech. Ours is Voice Dream Reader. It does Instapaper and Read It Later content also.

    • Anonymous

      I will check that out. I was just looking for a pdf reading app for technical literature.

  • Okay, but how do I get to choose it to speak using my puchased Spanish voice?