This month, Google introduced a new accessibility app which has the potential to change the way that deaf and hearing-impaired individuals communicate with those around them. Live Transcribe uses cloud-based speech recognition to display spoken words on a phone screen in real-time. Prior to this innovation, captioning technology typically required the use of a human captioner. And while captioning technology is effective, it can be costly, and using the technology typically requires significant preparation time. Now, deaf and hearing-impaired users can communicate with those around them easily and independently, with technology that is available for free.

The Breakdown:

  • Live Transcribe currently supports transcription in over 70 languages and dialects
  • The app supports external microphones
  • Responses can be typed in-app
  • Haptic feedback lets users know when others are speaking
  • A noise indicator shows the volume level of the speaker in relation to the noise of the environment
  • The app was created with user privacy in mind, and conversation transcripts are only stored locally, plus, audio conversations are not stored after the transcript is processed.

The Live Transcribe app comes pre-installed on Pixel 3 devices, but it must first be activated through the phone’s accessibility settings. To activate Live Transcribe go to Settings > Accessibility > Live Transcribe.  For older Android models (Android 5.0 and above), this app is available for download through the Google Play store. To download Live Transcribe for Android, click here(new window). Please note, this app is still in development, and is likely to change significantly over the coming months.