Convert Any Online Article to a Podcast With ListenLater.fm

I am bad at bookmarking to read them later, which means my bad web browser always fills up with open tabs. To me, the bookmarks folder is a black hole: I can put links in there to view them later, of course, but the chances of them actually escaping and returning to the browser tab are slim. Instead, the articles I’m going to read later just stay open in my browser – teasing tabs, I swear I’ll get to three-digit tabs, I promise.

This is why I was incredibly excited when I stumbled upon ListenLater.fm , a service still in development that promises to automatically create a “personalized podcast feed you can listen to” from any articles you would otherwise put down to read. … list for later. In other words, it creates an audio recording of the old boring computerized text-to-speech reading all the articles you submit to the site.

The service is free to use up to five articles a month of any length – a reasonable “trial” version that I would probably keep for long stories that you would otherwise read in your favorite comfy chair at home, rather than shorter news articles. Think epic longreads of New Yorkers versus your favorite blogs.

If you like the way the service works, you can sign up for an annual subscription for $ 36. Sounds expensive, but text-to-speech services are not cheap, as developer Chris Kinniburg writes:

“I wish I could offer a more substantial free trial, but without any income from this project, I just can’t afford it (and text-to-speech is surprisingly expensive). I felt it was important for people to be able to try ListenLater.fm before trying it, and 5 articles per month gives you enough articles to decide if it’s right for you. And if you want to re-evaluate again next month, go for it.

After the upgrade, you will be able to play over 24 hours of audio per month. If you start to go significantly beyond this limit, I may have to start limiting you. Again, the text-to-speech conversion is surprisingly expensive. But we will cross this bridge when we get there. “

That sounds reasonable to me. And barring a few quirks beyond ListenLater’s control — how long it takes for your favorite podcast app to recognize new podcast “episodes” in your personalized article feed — the service is excellent. I used his handy browser bookmarklet to add an article to my personalized feed, copied the unique RSS URL for my personal “podcast” and pasted it into the Overcast podcast player on iOS. Immediately, ListenLater appeared alongside my other podcast subscriptions:

And the article that I sent was waiting for me right there:

When it comes to text-to-speech reading quality, well, that’s about what you’d expect if you were chatting with your favorite digital assistant – albeit a little less talkative as there is no artificial pronunciation here. However, it gets the job done, which means I can now listen to articles (and reduce my reading stress) while I shower; driving for essentials; and I sit in bed, waiting for my anxiety-filled brain to calm down and fall asleep.

If you’d rather trade the universal podcast format compatibility for a cheaper solution, you can also find the built-in Read Aloud feature in article collection apps like Pocket and Instapaper and browser extensions like Read Aloud . Heck, you can even email articles to yourself and use the device’s built-in text-to-speech feature to have them read to you. The possibilities are as endless as your “to read later” list.

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