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Google today announced new features for its speech recognition transcription tool Live Transcribe: sound events and transcription saving. The news is being shared today to line up with Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and the update is “coming next month.”

Google released Live Transcribe in February. The tool uses machine learning algorithms to turn audio into real-time captions. Unlike Android’s upcoming Live Caption feature, which Google announced at I/O 2019 last week, Live Transcribe is a full-screen experience, uses your smartphone’s microphone (or an external microphone), and relies on the Google Cloud Speech API. Live Transcribe can caption real-time spoken words in over 70 languages and dialects. You can also type back into it — Live Transcribe is really a communication tool. The other main difference: Live Transcribe is available on 1.8 billion Android devices. Live Caption meanwhile isn’t out yet, and it will only work on select Android Q devices when it arrives later this year.

Live Transcribe new features

Next month, Live Transcribe will hear more than just speech. It will also register sound events, including a barking dog, a knock at the door, a passing vehicle, laughter, music, applause, and so on. Seeing sound events will help people who are deaf or hard of hearing experience non-conversation audio elements. Google expects non-speech audio cues to help people understand what else is going on around them.

Live Transcribe will also get closer to a full-fledged transcription offering. It will gain the ability to copy and save transcripts, which will be stored locally on your device for three days. Google expects this will be useful to many people, not just those with hearing loss. If you are using real-time transcriptions to, for example, learn a language, capture an interview, or take lecture notes, this feature could be for you. But three days is short. When Live Transcribe first launched, Google said it specifically didn’t include saving to keep the tool “simple.” It gave the same reason for the three-day limit today.


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Google has has made the audio visualization indicator bigger in Live Transcribe. The main purpose here is to help you more easily see the background audio. There may be other such small tweaks when the update arrives next month.

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