Recommendations regarding reading out long-form PDFs on iOS?

Hello all,

Any recommendations for an app/solution to this?

Background: I spend about an hour commuting per day, driving to and from work.
Instead of only listening to podcasts, I often want to listen to an article/long-form writing piece that I am currently in the process of completing.

As in, I’d like to have it read back to me, whilst driving. As an auditory ‘learner’, I find it helps me to embed what I have written, and hearing it also helps in identifying sections of writing that needs improvement.

Currently, I strip the text of any footnotes/endnotes, and convert to PDF.
I then airdrop that onto my phone.

Done so far:

1.) I have used the built-in iOS accessibility feature (two-finger swipe from the top) to read text to me.
2.) I have tried some of the app-specific “reading-tools” to read the text to me.

Regarding option 1.) >> this works OK, but when I am forced to rely on the iOS feature, then I’m faced with it only reading a page at a time.
This is hardly ideal, since then I have to keep dismissing and re-starting the process page-by-page.
Anyone had the iOS feature read back text where they had the PDF displayed as a continuous document, that doesn’t require page turning?

Regarding option 2.) >> I use Goodreader, which is a great PDF reader, but the ‘reading-technology’ is not great. It’s not as fluid as the iOS feature, and makes hearing what is being said (especially with technical/jargonistic text) difficult.
I’ve also tried Documents by Readdle. This doesn’t have a built-in feature, but does display the PDF as one continuous document.
I was quite optimistic, only for the iOS accessibility voice-over to read the text ‘underneath’ the PDF – as in, my file-structure inside Documents… For some reason, it doesn’t ‘see’ the PDF document, in order to read it back.

Any apps that someone can recommend, or an alternative to the above, that might work better?


Voice Dream Reader.

If the provided voices are not to your satisfaction you can download (and pay for) better quality voices from a number of sources. Voices are customisable for pitch, speed etc as are pronunciations. Whilst the reading style may take a little getting used to, once you adjust to your preferences it is a set and forget situation.

I have a sight impaired family member. I save numerous daily newspaper articles including long form stuff (eg Guardian long reads, featured investigations, weekend supplement etc) as PDFs; throw them into Voice Dream’s reading list (on an iPhone) and leave a couple of hours ‘reading’ (ie listening). Voice Dream just starts and keeps going until stopped.

Voice Dream also handles a variety of different document formats, text, rtf, e-pub etc.

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Cheers – will go and have a look. Never heard of it, so thank you for the suggestion.

[Edit:] Took the plunge, and this appears to be the closest to what I was looking for.
Its voice/reading-system is better than what I have heard so far, and there is plenty of adjustment options.

It allows me to pull in from the Files app, which is nice.
It struggles a bit with footnote numbering, but this is not a big issue at all – and something I can manage.
Thanks again!


I have been looking for something like this – looking forward to giving it a try soon. I’d love to hear about any other strengths/weaknesses as you start to play with it!

It’s pretty good. I have only tried a couple of journal articles – but from the few minutes I have played with it, is doesn’t really make a distinction between footnote numbering, the main text, and the footnote text.

By way of example:
It will read “dot three” when it reaches FN3 at the end of the sentence, or simply the number, without pause, and then jump into the next sentence straight away.
When it reaches the bottom of the page, it will jump straight into reading the text of the first footnote, with no/little pause – as if it is basically part of the preceding (main body) text.

That all being said, I like it enough to start using it instead of everything else I have tried so far.
The speaking is very natural, and at 160-165 words per minute, it picks up the nuanced pauses around " , " in the middle of longer sentences, as well as " – " and the use of " ( ) ".
In this regard, it easily trumps the other tools I’ve tried.

It has some simple/intuitive touch functionality, and I like how it gives you a timeline of how long is left in its reading of the article/text.
It also features a pronunciation dictionary – which seeming allows one to add terms etc. to its database/library, which could be very useful.

It also appears to remember where it was reading from/at, in a particular document, which is a nice touch.
It also allows one to enter URLs, to read off the web, which could be useful.

Overall, it wasn’t that cheap – but I don’t regret taking the chance in purchasing it, and will continue using it now.
That being said, I am mostly trying ‘straight-forward’ text files and PDFs, with no images/tables/formulas – so not sure how it will handle something a bit more complex – so please keep that in mind.

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Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Cheers!

Voice Dream handles straight text better than formatted content.

It will skip over images in news stories but reads the under-image description and copyright as if it is part of the text. It has no intelligence, it just makes text into sounds.

The pronunciation dictionary works well. It is a matter of trying to find a phonetic rendering of the word or abbreviation. A few examples; AEST (time zone) “ay ee ess tee”; I/C “interchange”; Geelong “jeelong”; Brisbane “bris bun”; Mon-Fri “Monday to Friday”; Cljster “Clyster”. As a rule of thumb, if it really grates change it otherwise live with it.

Two quirks. It cannot distinguish between ‘live’ and ‘live’. I live in this house and I attended a live concert last night will be rendered the same. Also, it takes too long a pause in apostrophied words. I use the pronunciation dictionary as a workaround; don’t “doughnt”; it’s “its”; I’m “eyeh m”. It keeps the flow more natural.

There are a number of sources for voices. Preferences and opinions vary greatly. None are ever as good as the sample clip they play. That said, though we are not American our currently preferred voice is the James (American) voice from NeoSpeech. It seems to have more inflection than some others though YMMV.

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+1 for Voice Dream. I use it with the Pocket integration. Nice thing is you can open the app before leaving and download a text copy of your reading list for off-line consumption.

I like the Brittish Female voice “Emma” a lot. “Sharon” is also very good, but the selection is comprehensive.

Good luck!

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