Android Reading mode updated with background playback

Google announced Reading mode in December and the Android app is now getting its first big update that adds background playback support.

Version 1.1 of Reading mode will let you “keep listening to audio when you’re using other apps or the screen is off.” Previously, exiting the overlay sheet or tapping your device’s lock button would immediately end text-to-speech.

Now, Reading mode keeps playing and you get a media player notification that lets you play/pause, skip to the next or go back to the last sentence, and scrub the entire article. This means you can start a long article and lock your phone. This is great for walking around or as a pseudo-podcast/music experience. 

If you prefer the old behavior, opening settings from the bottom-left corner and going to the Audio tab lets you toggle on/off “Play in background.” Note the Material 3 component complete with in-head checkmark, with Reading more being a pretty good example of Material You.

Version 1.1 of Android Reading mode with background playback support is rolling out now via the Google Play Store, but it’s not yet widely available. You could also sideload here to get it immediately. There are no other changes to the app today.

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