Google's Text-To-Speech 3.0 Update for Android has its flaws

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 6, 2014
Apps, Google Android

Are you using Android's Text-To-Speech (tts) feature when you are using your device? You can use tts on select services such as Google Translate or Google Maps, and other applications that you install on your device may also make use of it.

Google is currently rolling out a new version of Text-To-Speech that upgrades it to version 3.0. Rolling out means that it will be available eventually for all users who use compatible devices.

Android Police has uploaded the new apk file which you can use to upgrade your version of tts to the new one.

The major change is that Google has added support for additional languages, Portuguese and Spanish (United States), and for high quality voices.

These HD voices are only available for English speaking countries at the time of writing, and not for the other supported languages such as French, German or Portuguese.

google text to speech 3.0 update google tts high quality voices

The HD voices need to be downloaded first before you can select them as the default language used by the Text-To-Speech engine. The United Kingdom HD female voice pack is the largest, with its 276 Megabyte size, followed by the US HD female pack with 244 Megabyte and the UK HD male voice pack with 100 Megabyte.

Configuring Text-To-Speech

  1. Open the Settings of your Android device and select Language & input from the menu that opens up.
  2. Scroll down until you find the Speech group.
  3. Select Text-to-Speech output here.
  4. Click on the preferences icon next to Google Text-to-speech, and there on the install voice data link.
  5. The list of supported languages is displayed to you, and all you have to do now is pick one, and select one of the available language packs for download.

Here you define which language and voice you want the device to use when you use the text to speech feature of it.


Several users have reported that the new voices are too low in volume, and that there is no option to modify the volume of the voice.

I cannot confirm that, as the voices that I have tested worked just fine and with appropriate volume.

Still, it may be a bug that is only affecting select Android devices or versions, and not all of them.

The second issue was reported by Android Police. According to their tests, high-quality voice is not always used on Google Search. Depending on what you ask, results may sometimes be streamed from a Google server instead of the local system.

In addition, the selected voice was not always honored by it as well. While it did honor the selected language, it used a different voice pack instead of the selected one.

For other queries, the correct voice pack was used, but with a noticeable delay if a high-quality voice pack was set on the phone. According to Android Police, they experienced delays up to 10 seconds on a Nexus 5 before voice ran.

It also appears that Google Maps ignores the selected voice and uses the default voice instead.

Should you download it?

There is nothing wrong with download or allowing the update. Since you can keep the low quality voice, you won't notice any differences. Only when you decide to download the high quality voices, you might.

It is easy enough to trash them again if they do not work, or switch to a regular voice for the time being until the reported issues get sorted out by Google.


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  1. sandeep said on June 25, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Apps not using UK male voices, only us female voices working. don’t know what’s wrong!

  2. Blair said on April 16, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    I have have most definitely encountered a problem with the new voices. The volume of the new “high quality” female voice is much lower than that of the standard voice. This becomes an issue when simultaneously listening to music and running an exercise tracker or navigation program that provides voice feedback. You cannot hear the high quality female voice over the music.

  3. BBB said on March 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Just on the funny side of the spectrum, I wondered why the female UK HD voice is 2.76 times the size of the male version ? Same goes for the low quality but the difference is less.

    A: they chatter more and in such have more words
    B: They have a more broad spectrum of speech frequencies (from mid low to high and the male speaking in a monotone voice.
    But Case B should be the same for the US-English voices , even worse as I find more American female voice at irritating tones and accents than the British ones.
    So it must be A; US-speech has less words and males are to the point :D
    The question is valid, but my deduction ain’t as the number of words should be equal.
    Still I wonder.

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