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Microsoft announced that their Immersive Reader, a service for developers who want to add text-to-speech and other reading comprehension tools to their apps, is now available to the general public.

The Immersive Reader is part of Azure’s Cognitive Services suite in Ai products. It allows developers access to a text-to-speech engine, but of much importance is that the service offers tools that help readers comprehend things better and faster. It is a great way to improve reading comprehension.

This is done by displaying pictures over commonly used words or separating the syllables and parts of speech in sentence examples.

A complete suite

The best part about it is that it gives readers a distraction-free way to enjoy reading, similar to modern browsers. If you use the Edge browser from Microsoft, they already have the reader included in a distraction-free way, with other accessibility features.

Microsoft has also bundled the Immersive Reader with its translation service.

With this recent launch, Microsoft is adding to the service, support for 15 of the neural text-to-speech voices, and five new languages (Odia, Kurdish (Northern), Kurdish (Central), Pashto, and Dari). This brings the total of languages supported to 70.

Learning is driving usage

As they announced in this recent launch, they have partnered up with Code.org and SAFARI Montage to introduce Immersive Reader in learning solutions.

Microsoft reported that they had a 560% increase in the Immersive Reader use from February to May, mostly because people were looking for new educational tools to use at home. The pandemic started the spike, and Immersive Reader is the right choice for obvious reasons.

Currently, more than 23 million people use Immersive Reader every month. Microsoft expects that the number will go up again in the Fall when the new school year begins.