(Credit: Screenshots: Tom McNamara/Download.com)

In a world where mobile notifications can come in a steady stream throughout your day, information overload is easier than ever before. And if you want to save a video or article to read for later, there isn't really a standardized way to do that. Some people bookmark things in a web browser, while others email things to themselves.

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Meanwhile, the Pocket app (Android, iOS) can sync your backlog across devices, acting at a level above all the different browsers and email services you might use. As long your device can run the app -- or if you use Firefox (Android, iOS), because Mozilla purchased Pocket last year and integrated it into its browser -- then you start using it instead of a patchwork of different tools.

All major web browsers can also access your Pocket library on the website.

Now, Pocket is going a step further. Starting with version 7 that's already begun rolling out, the app can use AI to perform text-to-speech on all the articles that you've saved -- and it's actually pretty good. Notably, this does not require upgrading to a paid account, which costs $4.99 a month, or $44.99 a year.

When you open version 7 of Pocket, there will now be a headphone icon in the upper right corner. Tapping this takes you to an audio control interface like you'll see in Spotify or Apple Music: You have a play/pause button, two buttons to skip forward or back 15 seconds, a seek slider, and a button that will adjust speech speed from 0.8x to 4x.

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If you tap the gear in the upper right, this will show you your text-to-speech controls. "Best-quality voices" are enabled by default, and your language and voice are assigned automatically. If you want to choose other languages or voices, uncheck the box next to "Stream best-quality voices" and tap Language or Voice to make your selections. There are nine voices and dozens of languages to choose from.

Be aware that the speech output will get pretty weird if your voice language choice does not match the language of the text on the page. All things being equal, we recommend leaving Voice and Language set to "Automatic."

Now that the Pocket app can read your articles to you in the style of a podcast or music app, one wonders if Mozilla will make an argument for getting it into Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. It seems like a natural fit. However, there's already an app on both platforms called Pocket Casts (Android, iOS), so there could be some confusion there that would need to be sorted out.

If you do upgrade to a paid account, it will remove ads, store the actual articles in the Pocket cloud so that you don't lose them if a website shuts down or has connection issues, beefs up your in-app search capabilities, and lets you organize your reading (listening?) library with tags.

Takeaways

  • The mobile app for Pocket's cloud-based reading list service can now use a built-in AI to perform speech-to-text -- reading your saved articles aloud with a computer-generated voice.
  • Pocket saves bookmarked web pages that sync across your compatible devices, the Mozilla Foundation purchased its maker last year. Pocket is built into Firefox, and you can get it in the desktop version of Google Chrome as a browser extension.
  • This new feature does not require a paid Pocket subscription.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.