They’re new features, except to people who use TikTok
Instagram has added text-to-speech and voice effects to its TikTok competitor Reels, two features TikTok has had for some time. The robotic voice-overs used as narration for videos grew so ubiquitous on TikTok in fact, that voice actor Bev Standing sued the company in May, saying it didn’t have permission to use her voice. In September, TikTok reached a settlement with Standing that included a licensing agreement.
While it’s popular among TikTok creators, more importantly, text-to-speech is a widely used accessibility feature that allows blind people and those with low vision to hear spoken versions of written text.
To use text-to-speech in Reels, open the Instagram app and go to the Reels camera, record or upload a video, and add text to the video using its text tool. Tap the text bubble to get to the three-dot menu, and select “text-to-speech,” then choose which voice option you want. Then post the Reel as usual.
If you want to add voice effects to your Reel, which lets you modify audio including a voice-over, after recording a Reel, tap the music note to open the audio mixer, tap “effects” and choose the voice effect you want. Options include “helium,” “giant,” and “robot.”
Reels launched in 2020, meant to be a direct competitor to the wildly popular TikTok. Instagram launched a bonus program for creators in July, part of parent company Facebook’s (now Meta) plan to pay $1 billion to creators through 2022, and has offered creators with high follower counts as much as $35,000 in bonuses to create Reels.
Meanwhile, TikTok has evolved its text-to-speech feature with specialized character voices; on Friday it introduced text-to-speech voices from Disney characters including Stitch, Chewbacca, Rocket Raccoon, and others.
On October 5th, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared before a Senate Commerce subcommittee to testify about Facebook, Instagram, and the danger of engagement-focused algorithms.