Users have been reporting seeing play buttons popping up on some stories. It looks like this may be a new feature in the making.
Wattpad Readers Report Seeing an Audio Play Button
Several Reddit users have recently posted on the r/Wattpad forum about seeing a play option on a story. "I noticed an orange audio play button as an option on a story I was viewing," poster TEZofAllTrades said. "Later the button appeared in the bottom-left while I was in notifications."
"Just now, the button appeared on my latest chapter. I figured it must be a new feature and clicked it. It started loading and said (audio powered by remixd)."
This user was suspicious of it being a potential scam or phishing device.
Fellow Reddit user issheafriend also confirmed seeing the same feature.
What is Remixd?
A quick trip to Google uncovered the company Remixd, a text-to-speech software company. Here is the description of their Wordpress plugin:
Give your users the ability to listen to your written content, on site ... Utilize your existing written content to create audio articles, generating incremental revenue for your site(s) with no additional display or video ads.
Remixd boasts software that converts written text to "premium audio" with multiple voice options. The company has partnered with other brands like Amazon Polly to use machine learning to create more natural sounding computerized speech.
Audio Has Been on Wattpad's Wish List for Years
Wattpad developers have long been pursuing a better option for audio content. In 2015, they partnered with Soundcloud to add audio functionality to their stories. This feature was mostly used to add existing sound effects, music, or recorded clips.
Currently, Wattpad's Audio Options Are Limited
Users who use screen readers or text-to-speech programs will tell you that Wattpad's usability with those is less-than-ideal.
Screen readers in general sound robotic and choppy, and Wattpad lacks the ability to provide alt tags or captions for images and other visual media. Wattpad writers are also notorious for their bad grammar and punctuation, both of which make it that much harder for e-readers to correctly parse text. Furthermore, most available screen readers can't follow text or hold your place in a chapter within the app.
Is Better Audio on the Horizon?
It's safe to say that Wattpad is probably quietly rolling out beta tests of this new text-to-speech functionality. If these tests are successful, we could see a larger roll out and integration soon. (Then again, if tests are unsuccessful, they could quietly squash the project before most users ever see it.)
This feature would be a huge leap for the app's accessibility and an added potential revenue stream for Wattpad, so it's likely that if they can make it work, they'll find a way.
Have you seen the mysterious play button? Have you been able to test it? Let us know...