Live Transcribe isn’t one of Google’s most well-known apps but for those that use it could be one of the most important. Although still in development, the app uses Google’s speech recognition technology to transcribe conversations onto a phone’s screen as they’re happening. This allows people with hearing impairments to participate in conversations going on around them. The app also has a facility for typing out responses, too.
Live Transcribe has an impressive list of features including support in over 70 languages, bilingual conversational support, haptic feedback for when somebody starts talking, and a volume indicator to show how loud somebody is talking. Until now, however, all of these features have been based around conversations, but a recent Google blog post describes some interesting new skills that are on the horizon.
New contextual environment features include the ability to hear applause, laughter, and a knock at the door
It was Google’s head honcho, Sundar Pichai himself, who announced the new features via Twitter. As well as offering users the ability to engage in conversation more, Live Transcribe will also allow users to take more from their surroundings.
This Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’re announcing updates to Live Transcribe, a tool that provides real-time transcriptions on Android. It’ll soon show sound events – like a knock on the door – and enable transcripts to be saved on device. #GAAD https://t.co/hMltPZ2S75
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) May 16, 2019
The app’s update gives it the ability to highlight sound events (like a dog barking) that are going on around the user. Google’s Product Manager for Android Accessibility had this to say on why this is an important development, “Seeing sound events allows you to be more immersed in the non-conversation realm of audio and helps you understand what is happening in the world. This is important to those who may not be able to hear non-speech audio cues such as clapping, laughter, music, applause, or the sound of a speeding vehicle whizzing by.” These new features will also increase immersion in conversations, as well as offering wider contextual information.
Google first announced Live Transcribe back in February. The promise then was that the feature would receive a limited rollout in its beta form and also on Pixel 3 devices. If you have a Pixel 3 device, you can simply enable the feature right now by going to your Accessibility settings. If you don’t have a Pixel 3, however, you’ll have to download it first, which you can do here.
The only caveat in all of this is that the app is still in development and so is still a little unstable. At this early stage in the development process, however, the more users Google can get to download the app the better they’ll be able to make it in the future. This means using it will help make it better and if you give Google feedback on the app, you’ll help even more.