Just yesterday during the Super Bowl, Google took out an ad to go over how Translate helps users around the world to better understand their surroundings and communicate. Today, Google is announcing two new accessibility features for Android users who are deaf or hard of hearing with Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier.
Live Transcribe is a new tool which transcribes speech around a user in near real-time. Simply open the app and it immediately starts listing out the surrounding conversation in big, easy to read text. Live Transcribe does require an active internet connection to work, and it also only works in a limited state. It’ll be built into Google’s own Pixel 3 phones, and available as a Play Store download for other Android phones. Notably, it is still in limited beta at the moment. Users can sign up for the beta here.
The Verge notes that this app worked really well, even nailing proper punctuation and capitalization in their testing. It’s further noted that the app has some subtle feature additions to make it easier to use. This includes a pulsing blue circle in the corner that notifies the user of ambient sound and directs them to move the microphone closer to the subject being transcribed. Google says the app will work in 70 different languages, and it also features a keyboard for typing out replies.
Sound Amplifier boosts audio heard by your smartphone or the microphone on your wired headphones (it doesn’t work with wireless options) to make it more clear, all without any sort of internet connection required. Users can fine-tune the settings with a couple of sliders, and also filter out unwanted noise to some extent. For now, this only works on Android Pie and it bakes itself into the Accessibility settings once downloaded.
Notably, this is very similar to something Apple has baked into iOS in recent releases. Using a pair of AirPods or even some supported hearing aids, users can perform the same functions. Google says it hasn’t ruled out bringing Live Transcribe or Sound Amplifier to iOS, but it’s not on the map just yet.