Google Text to Speech API: A Beginners’ Guide Most comprehensive intro to Google Text to Speech API. Written for beginners.

By Hammad Syed in API

April 18, 2024 10 min read
Google Text to Speech API: A Beginners’ Guide

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As developers, you’ve probably explored a lot of text to speech APIs, including Google Text to Speech API. Are you looking for an overview and review of Google TTS? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Today, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about Google’s Text to Speech API. I’m also going to reveal what I believe is the best text to speech API platform. Is it Google? Stay tuned to find out.

What is Google Text to Speech API?

So, first things first, let’s explore the nitty gritty of Google Text to Speech API. The Google Cloud Text to Speech API is a part of the comprehensive suite of cloud services offered by the Google Cloud platform. It allows developers to easily integrate speech synthesis capabilities into their applications, enabling them to convert text input into high-quality AI voices.

This technology finds its application across a wide range of domains, from enhancing accessibility for visually impaired users to providing voice responses in virtual assistants.

How Google Text to Speech API works

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering something along the lines of “How does Google TTS API synthesize voices?”

At its core, Google Text to Speech API works by taking input text, processing it using machine learning and neural network models, which have been trained on large datasets to know how to replicate language, and then transforming it into lifelike speech in the form of audio files which can be integrated into websites, apps, and more.

Developers can then specify parameters such as language code, audio encoding, and voice selection to customize the output. For example, they can change the language, voice, speaking rate, volume, and more according to their needs.

How to use Google Text to Speech API

Ready to make your computer talk? Using Google Text to Speech API is a breeze.

To use Google Text to Speech API, developers need to have a Google Cloud service account. After enabling the Text to Speech API through the Google Cloud Console, they can authenticate their application and start making API requests. Google provides tutorials, docs, SDKs, QuickStart guides, and client libraries, such as TextToSpeechClient, via GitHub in several programming languages, including Python and Node.js making it easier to integrate the API into existing projects.

Developers can also interact with it via gcloud’s command line.

To convert text to speech, developers need to send a request to the API endpoint texttospeech.googleapis.com with the desired text and configuration parameters. The API responds with an audio file containing the synthesized speech, which can then be used in applications or saved for later use.

The API supports various audio formats, including MP3 and LINEAR16, allowing for flexibility in application development.

Understanding key TTS concepts

To effectively utilize the Google Text to Speech API, it’s essential to grasp some key concepts:

  • AudioConfig: This parameter allows developers to specify various audio settings such as audio encoding, sample rate, and speaking rate.
  • SynthesisInput: It represents the text input that needs to be converted into speech.
  • VoiceSelectionParams: Developers can use this parameter to select the desired voice for the synthesized speech based on language and gender preferences.
  • SSMLVoiceGender: This parameter enables fine-grained control over the gender of the selected voice when using Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML).

Google Text to Speech API pricing

Upon my research, I also discovered Google Text to Speech API’s pricing. Its pricing model is based on the number of characters used. To use Google TTS, you must enable billing and you will be automatically charged if your usage exceeds the free character limit. Spaces are also included as characters. All Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) tags except mark are also included in the character count.

So, what’s the free character limit? Well, it depends on the type of voice you’d like – the higher the quality, the higher the price.

For example, you get up to 1 million bytes of premium voices per month. After that threshold, you’ll pay $0.000016 per byte ($16 per 1 million bytes). For studio voices, you get up to 100 thousand bytes and pay $0.00016 per byte ($160 per 1 million bytes) after you hit the free limit. And lastly, you get 1 million characters free when it comes to standard voices, after which you’ll pay $0.000004 per character ($4 per 1 million characters).

As you can see, with Google Cloud’s pay-as-you-go pricing, you only pay for the amount of audio content you create.

Google Text to Speech API features

I did find that for that flexible pricing, Google Text to Speech API does offer a plethora of features. Let me walk you through some of its key offerings:

Large voice and language selection

Google TTS API offers a selection of over 380 voices across 50+ languages and variants, including 90 WaveNet voices. From Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish to English, Russian, and many more, the options are diverse and cater to various linguistic needs. Plus, with high-fidelity voices available, the audio quality is top-notch.

Custom voices

With Google Text to Speech API’s voice cloning feature, users can create custom voices that resonate uniquely with users, ensuring a personalized and engaging experience. This helps craft synthetic voices that match the tone and style of your brand or application.

Long audio synthesis

Google Text to Speech API also supports long audio synthesis with support of up to 1 million bytes in a single session. This allows users to confidently tackle larger projects without worrying about compatibility issues, whether they’re working on extensive narrations or complex dialogue sequences.

SSML support

Developers, like myself, can take advantage of the API’s SSML support for fine-grained control over speech synthesis like pauses, pronunciation, pitch, speaking rate, and volume. For example, Google TTS allows users to personalize the pitch of a voice, up to 20 semitones more or less, and adjust their speaking rate to be 4x faster or slower than the normal rate. and increase the volume by up to 16db or decrease the volume by up to -96db.

Integration

Whether you’re developing web applications using Chrome or building native applications, integration is seamless thanks to Google Text to Speech API’s support for both REST and gRPC APIs, making it easy to integrate with various applications and devices, from phones and PCs to IoT devices like cars and speakers.

Format flexibility

Audio format flexibility is another highlight, with the ability to convert text to various formats including MP3, Linear16, and OGG Opus. This versatility ensures that synthesized speech can be seamlessly integrated into various applications and platforms.

Google Text to Speech API use cases

Now that we covered how to use Google Text to Speech API as well as its features, I want to touch on why someone would want to use it in the first place. Let’s delve into just some of the ways I use TTS APIs:

  1. Accessibility solutions: I can use TTS APIs to create accessibility solutions for individuals with visual impairments, dyslexia, or other reading difficulties. Incorporating TTS helps people access information from digital platforms, including websites, applications, and ebooks.
  2. Language learning platforms: I can integrate the API into language learning platforms to enhance learning experiences. When language apps offer audio support, learners can learn proper pronunciation faster and improve their listening and speaking skills.
  3. Interactive voice response (IVR) systems: I’ve also used TTS APIs to deliver automated voice chat responses to customer queries and requests. This streamlines customer interactions, reduces wait times, and enhances overall service efficiency, benefiting both my business and my customers.
  4. E-learning and educational resources: I can utilize a TTS API to create audio versions of educational materials such as lectures, textbooks, and study guides to help facilitate auditory learning for my students and accommodate diverse learning preferences.
  5. Voice-enabled applications and devices: In my development projects, I integrate TTS APIs into voice-enabled applications and devices, such as virtual assistants, smart speakers, and IoT devices.
  6. Content creation: I use TTS APIs to generate synthetic voices for multimedia projects, including podcasts, videos, and audiobooks. This saves me a ton of time when it comes to creating voice overs as well as money because I don’t have to hire voice actors.

Google Text to Speech API pros and cons

Since I’m always in pursuit of the best text to speech API features, I tried Google Text to Speech API so you don’t have to. Here are Google Text to Speech API’s top pros and cons based on my user experience:

Google Text to Speech API pros

Some areas where Google Text to Speech API shines, include:

  1. Natural-sounding speech: I’ve tried a lot of TTS APIs and I do have to admit Google Text to Speech API generates speech that sounds remarkably human across a variety of languages.
  2. Reliability and scalability: Being backed by the Google Cloud Platform means I can rely on the infrastructure’s robustness, scalability, security measures, and automatic updates. This is crucial, especially for applications requiring consistent performance under varying loads.
  3. Extensive language support: With support for a wide range of languages, the API allows me to create applications for global audiences and diverse user bases.
  4. Flexible pricing: The pricing model is based on usage so I can pay for what I use, making it suitable for both small-scale projects and large-scale applications.
  5. Low latency: With a latency of around 200ms (time to first audio byte), the API offers swift response times, enhancing user experience by minimizing delays.

Google Text to Speech API cons

Limitations and drawbacks of Google Text to Speech API include:

  • Dependency on internet connectivity: One significant limitation is the need for an internet connection to access the API. This could be problematic in scenarios where internet access is limited or unreliable.
  • Limited language support: While the API supports many languages, including English (en-US) it does not cover all languages or accents. This could be a drawback If I was trying to create applications for certain communities.
  • Complex integration: Integrating the API into applications requires a certain level of familiarity with cloud services and APIs. While this wasn’t difficult for me, this could pose a challenge for developers who are new to APIs.
  • Streaming limitations: Compared to other TTS APIs I’ve used, Google Text to Speech API is not the best choice for real-time streaming applications due to limitations in streaming capabilities.

PlayHT API – The #1 Google Text to Speech API alternative

PlayHT stands out as the premier text to speech API for seamlessly integrating real-time AI-generated voices into applications and projects. Boasting one of the fastest latencies available, PlayHT is the ideal choice for those prioritizing instant speech synthesis.

Whether you require an on-premise setup or prefer a cloud-based solution, PlayHT has you covered. PlayHT also offers a vast selection of over 800 unique voices, with an additional 20,000 text to speech voice options available through the community voice library and options to create instant or high-fidelity voice clones.

Take advantage of PlayHT’s API today and equip your applications with AI-generated speech that rivals the natural cadence and tone of human voices.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Google TTS use JSON?

The Google Text to Speech API utilizes JSON for structuring requests and responses exchanged between client applications and the API.

Is Google Text to Speech API free?

Google TTS API is based on usage. While it does offer a certain character limit for free per month, it’s not free once the limit is reached. For more information, see the pricing selection above.

How good is Google Speech to Text API?

Google Speech to Text’s transcription is very accurate.

Can the Google Cloud Text to Speech API handle multiple languages?

Yes, the Google Cloud Text to Speech API supports 50+ languages and variants.

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Hammad Syed

Hammad Syed

Hammad Syed holds a Bachelor of Engineering - BE, Electrical, Electronics and Communications and is one of the leading voices in the AI voice revolution. He is the co-founder and CEO of PlayHT, now known as PlayAI.

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