Monday, May 11, 2020

IBM Watson Voices Will No Longer Be Available

Unfortunately IBM Watson voices will no longer be available.  We have been able to provide these voices to you for free by call IBM's cloud API via their TTS demo page.  However, this goes against their terms of service, and today we can no longer do so.

IBM Watson voices use deep-learning technology to provide high quality, life-like synthetic speech.  This requires a significant amount of processing power from their cloud infrastructure, and for this reason they charge a fee for the use of their TTS API.  This fee is too high to be practical for Read Aloud's document-reading purposes.

If you were using these voices, please switch to different voice provider.

It would be nice if we're able to use these high-quality TTS voices for general document reading purposes.  And we will be in the future, as this technology become commoditized.  But in the meantime, we'll have to make do with the older generation voices that sound robotic.

Edit: for a reliable (though not very high quality) voice that works offline, please install this extension https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/us-english-female-text-to/pkidpnnapnfgjhfhkpmjpbckkbaodldb.  After installing, the voice will appear in the voice list as "US English Female TTS (by Google)".

Friday, May 8, 2020

Using Your Own Google Cloud Platform Account

In order to use your own Google Cloud Platform account to enable Wavenet voices in Read Aloud, follow these steps:

1. Login to the Google Cloud Platform console
2. Create new project (or use an existing one)
3. From the left popup menu, select API & Services -> Library
4. Find and enable the "Cloud Text-to-Speech API"
5. From the left popup menu, select API & Services -> Credentials
6. Create a new API key (or use an existing one)
7. Open Read Aloud options, in the Voice dropdown scroll to the bottom and choose "Enable Custom Voices"
8. Enter your API key into the form and click Save

You should get a green message that says "Wavenet voices are enabled".

IBM Watson API Change

The IBM Watson API service URL has changed.  We have updated our code and released version 1.30.0 on 5/7.   Unfortunately right after we submitted the new version, they changed the URL again.   We cannot release version 1.30.1 until 1.30.0 has been approved by the Chrome Web Store, which can take up to 7 days.  In other words, it may take up to 2 weeks for version 1.30.1 to arrive with the fix for IBM voices.  If you were using IBM Watson voices, please select some other voices for the time being.

Edit: if you use Firefox, Read Aloud version 1.30.2 has working IBM Watson voices.