[Follow link immediately below for more recent post about text-to-speech app for pdfs that retains original formatting of PDF file.]
Despite all the positive potential, Apple’s iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch are limited by serious shortcomings. Some of these deficiencies are unfortunate, frustrating, and surprising in such expensive devices! It is extremely disappointing that Speak Selection, the text-to-speech Apple has built into iOS 5, does not work with PDF files.
It doesn’t matter whether the file is open in iBooks, GoodReader, or any other app I’ve tested, Speak Selection will not read a PDF file. I have invested a great deal of time in efforts to find a convenient solution. Nothing I’ve tried yet works perfectly, but I’m sharing one low-cost option that works well, as long as the original formatting of the PDF file is not required.
Voice Reader is a low cost ($1.99) app for iPad or iPhone that provides text-to-speech that reads PDF’ files aloud–in 21 languages, with 32 available voices. (Additional voices are $.0.99) Files, can be opened into Voice Reader from other apps, including DropBox. When open in Voice Reader, the text can be read aloud with a high quality voice. Or, if text can be copied, it can be pasted into Voice Reader. It is important to note that the original formatting of PDF files is lost when it is opened in Voice Reader.
Settings within Voice Reader offer some helpful adjustments, including reading rate, voice pitch, text font, and font-size. There is also a “Dark Mode”, which reverses the contrast to white text on a black background. Finally, Voice Reader not only reads text aloud, it can create an audio file in m4a format. The audio file can then be emailed from the device.