As an auditory learner, having the opportunity to hear what you have to read is what makes the information stick with you. Since you can’t always have someone else read your textbook aloud, you are looking for an app that can read the material for you. Look no further as you’ve found Speechify.
An app that, through a computer-generated digital voice, reads your texts aloud. A perfect choice for anyone looking for auditory support. From students who need to catch up with their textbooks while commuting to busy people who want to hear their emails during their breakfast, Speechify seems to be a viable solution, with tons of HD premium voices available to choose from.
But as it’s a relatively new software, you may have a few questions before trying it.
What features does it have? How much does it cost? What are the differences between each version? What can I do with the free option? Is it worth upgrading to Premium?
Whether you are not sure how it works or would like to know the experience from someone else, the truth is you need an honest review on Speechify. And luckily, you’ve found it!
Here at Gradehacker, we are the number one non-traditional student resource that helps improve their college journey. We know which apps and websites can significantly change college life and which aren’t worth the time. That’s why today, we are giving you an in-depth, no BS Speechify review.
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to choose whether this app is for you.
But first, let’s cover the basics.
What is Speechify?
Speechify is a desktop and mobile app that reads any text you have in a human non-robotic voice. Its founder, who has dyslexia, created it as a tool for people who struggle with reading; however, everybody can use it to enhance productivity.
There are three ways to use Speechify:
You can use it in different situations depending on which version you choose.
For example, you can listen to your textbook while driving or traveling to work with its mobile app. While with its chrome extension, Speechify can read your emails or whatever you are writing on Google Docs.
Even if they all share the same basic features, there are some differences among them.
Now, let’s get to the good part: our review.
Design and Interface
Speechify has a pretty straightforward design. Its desktop and mobile version only has a few dashboards and menus, making the user experience intuitive and easy-going.
First, you have the home page, where you can add PDFs, text documents, and even upload entire web pages. If you are on your phone, you can scan documents with your camera.
While it’s better if you have a digital version, it’s good to know that you can also add physical books by scanning them.
Once you pick a document, the app will show you the text and start reading it. There is a menu on the bottom where you can pause and skip sentences, change the reading speed, pick the voice sample you’ll hear, and select if you want to skip specific content of the text.
If you want to see how these additional features work, keep reading!
Regarding the Chrome Extension, it’s very intuitive as well. You can go to any page you like (an email, newspaper article, or a Google Docs file), click on the extension button, and a small box on the corner will appear with the reading time, a play/pause button, and settings.
Push play, and the app will read whichever site you choose. And if you click on the save button, the entire page will be saved into your Speechify home as a separate document. Cool, right?
Now, let’s see what makes them unique: their features.
While it’s great that you can listen to your textbooks, what makes Speechify stand out is what you can do to personalize your experience to better fit your situation.
The first feature that can improve your productivity is its reading speed. In all of their versions, you can increase it up to 4.5 times faster than the average (900 wpm), which they assure to be a 405% productivity boost.
While on paper this sounds incredible, the truth is that it is a useless feature.
Why? Because you can’t understand anything the voice is reading at this speed. And it’s not only this speed; something similar happens in the range of 500 to 900wpm.
Of course, the fewer words per minute you choose, the clearer you’ll hear it, but with such high numbers, it’s unlikely that you will have a proper understanding of what you are reading.
For instance, if you are reading a novel or a text from your history class at this speed rate, you will move quickly from one sentence to the other, skipping important keywords or details. By the time you finish listening, you’ll see that you don’t remember that much.
However, we found that this productivity boost can be achieved with a speed rate between 200 and 400wpm. Which rate is best depends entirely on your skills and what you are looking for.
If you are at home and would like to listen to your course material while reading it too, a faster speed rate will be a good choice. By reading and listening to the text, you can hear it faster and finish it sooner.
On the contrary, if you are commuting and don’t have the possibility of using your phone while you listen, you might want to pick a slower speed. This way, you can hear the content more carefully and understand it better without having a visual reinforcement.
Another feature that makes them stand out from the rest is the quality and variety of their voice samples.
They have a wide range of voices in English, both British and American. Most of them are human non-robotic voices that can sound almost real at an average speed. Whether you choose a male or female voice, you’ll listen to your texts just as if somebody else was reading them right in front of you.
Some voices are not entirely done yet, but you can still use them. Among them, you’ll find voices such as the one from actress Gwyneth Paltrow, an old narrator, and even a Speechify project called Mr. President, who sounds just like Barack Obama.
These are additional options that add to the overall experience but don’t change the app’s effectiveness. It’s a nice plus where you can imagine Obama as a professor reading class material to you, but that’s it.
Not only do they have voices in English, you can also find options in Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Dutch, Chinese, Arabic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Turkish, Swedish, and Indonesian.
They may not have as many voice samples as the English language, but there are enough options for multicultural students worldwide.
The bad news is that these premium voices that sound more real are limited. Premium users can listen to up to 150,000 words per month. Speechify assures that this is because their products are in an early stage, making them expensive and resource-intensive. They claim this is the best way to offer the highest-quality listening experience and shared that they are looking for a better solution.
What happens if you reach the limit? You’ll have to use the robot voices that sound similar to Google Translator.
Lastly, let’s see how you can change your text and how Speechify reads it.
If you are using the mobile version, you can edit your text directly from the app. You can add new content or delete useless paragraphs from your document with the editing option, which is very helpful if you want to have a file with only the necessary information.
Unfortunately, this useful feature is not available on the desktop version. The only way you can edit your document is by having the Chrome extension and pasting all the text onto Google Docs.
But something really necessary that the desktop version has and the mobile version doesn’t is the possibility to skip specific content of your text. You can make Speechify avoid braces, citations, parentheses, brackets, and URLs. An extremely needed feature that significantly improves the experience of listening to an academic paper.
Now that we have seen what features Speechify has, we can jump into the big question: how much does it cost?
Speechify offers two versions: the free plan and the premium package.
Let’s see them more in-depth.
As usual, Speechify’s free version gives you limited use of the app. With it, you:
There is a 3-day free trial that gives you access to premium features, but we must warn you that we have read some user reviews that had a bad experience with it. Some people claimed that Speechify charged the one-year subscription when they started the trial and didn’t receive a refund or a proper customer service response.
In our case, we used the 3-day free trial and canceled it without any problem, but you must take into account that some people have complained and have had issues with it.
The Premium version lets you access all the features we have already discussed. But how much does it cost?
Well, Speechify’s annual subscription costs $139.
While this would be $11.58 per month, they currently don’t have a monthly subscription, meaning the complete fee would be charged in one payment once a year.
So, what do we think about Speechify?
In our opinion, Speechify is an excellent app for those who wish to improve their productivity. Due to their changing speed rate, auditory learners especially will cover more pages and paragraphs in less time, whether they are reading along or listening to it while doing something else.
Their free plan will be enough for most students, as it lets you increase the speed up to 250 words per minute, which isn’t the maximum, but it’s a decent speed rate to understand the text. The biggest drawback is that you can’t skip content such as braces and parentheses, making the reading pause too often due to in-text citations in academic papers.
And while their premium tools are the features that make the difference, we believe that their annual price is too much, especially considering that they don’t offer other plans for shorter terms such as one or three months.
Their premium version indeed has a lot of voice samples that sound real, but in the end, the likeliness of a natural voice does not change the understanding of the text. It’s cool hearing your class material read by Gwyneth Paltrow or Barack Obama, but it’s only a plus.
We believe that Speechify is a growing app that isn’t yet fully developed and still has a lot to do. Besides including new pricing plans, they should ensure that all devices hold the same features. By making it possible to edit texts on the desktop and letting users skip braces and parentheses on the mobile app, the overall experience would feel much more aligned.
Improves your productivity
High price of $139 per year
Listen to texts while doing something else or moving
No monthly plans
App and desktop version have different additional features
Wide variety of voice samples in many languages
Limited words read by human voices even with the Premium plan
Free version is enough
x5 reading speed is useless
Premium version adds necessary and better features
Some people had bad experiences with its free-trial
Is Speechify For You?
Now it’s time for you to ask yourself, should I use Speechify? What use could I make of it?
Well, Speechify is for you if you:
Regardless of the version you choose, you can make good use of Speechify.
Maybe you’ll first want to try the free plan. See how you find their voice samples and how much impact it has on your productivity. And if you are finding results, jump right into the premium version and take advantage of the additional features.
With a bit of luck, now you know whether this app will improve your college experience or not. If you are looking for more websites and apps that every student should know, check our related articles: