The app, named Reading mode, provides a range of features to help people with impaired vision and dyslexia read more comfortably. Reading mode is supported on devices running Android 9.0 or later and integrates with quick settings to let users adjust the contrast, text size, font types and remove clutter.
It also provides a text to speech feature that users can adjust to suit their preference. Currently, it only works with English, French, Italian and Spanish but more languages will be supported in the future.
Unlike the other accessibility tools which Google offer like TalkBack which help visually impaired users navigate their phone, Reading mode is designed to help users consume written content. After the app is installed, a floating button appears that users can press to toggle the feature on and off and customize the screen reading experience.
For blind users, the text-to-speech feature reads content out-loud and allows users to easily adjust the voice and reading speed. For people with low vision and dyslexia, the feature can be used to adjust the contrast, color, font type and size of words.
While the ability to change the color and contrast on a screen might not seem like such a big deal to those without visual impairments, the feature is as empowering as text-to-speech is to the blind.
An Array of Accessibility Tools
The developers of Android, Google, also make the web browser Chrome, which has a secret extension named Reader mode too. While this mode does not support text-to-speech or the customization of the size, contrast and color of text, it does remove ads and cutter from the screen to make reading more enjoyable. It also has the bonus of removing some pay-wall overlays to give you access to more content.
If you use a chrome browser, you can enter chrome://flags into the address bar and then search for Reader Mode. After you enable the feature, an icon appears in the address bar that you can press to enter reader mode.
It’s surprising that these features are not more popular, but developers are reluctant to advertise them so heavily because these reader modes effectively work as ad-blockers.
Developers need to do just enough to make content more accessible but avoid giving you the option to not see ads. So, when Android says it removes clutter, what they really mean is that is removes ads but they don’t want to tell you that.