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Google’s Live Caption Function Now Supports Calls

Google‘s Live Caption tool is one of the most important accessibility functions, and it is also useful in noisy settings such as a bar or a subway station. It is accessible on Pixel smartphones and computers via the Chrome browser and provides on-screen subtitles for any media that plays audio on your device.

However, until now, the feature did not work for calls. With today’s implementation of the Pixel 4a, though, Google is revealing Live Caption for Calls. The new function will be available on the Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, Pixel 4, and Pixel 4a.

The function is said to work with calls, whether they are voice or video, cellular or Wi-Fi. It will also be compatible with Google Duo and third-party apps such as Telegram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, as long as it is a voice that’s played through the smartphone, it can be Live Captioned.

How Live Caption for Calls Works

Part of the reason the Live Caption was difficult to enable for calls is that the subtitles that show up on display can be screenshotted, which is somehow similar to recording a conversation. That uncovers issues of consent and privacy, which Google has roundabout by implementing a notification system that alerts people when the feature is being used. On a call, the alert will be saying: ‘Hi, the person you’re about to speak with has call captions turned on. They’ll see captions of what you say to help them listen along.’

This approach is rather similar to what Google implemented with its Duplex restaurant-reservation AI that is able to make bookings over the phone on users’ behalf. Live Caption is a significant function that sets Google’s phones apart by making it easier for those who have hearing problems to better interact with content.

If the company keeps the pace it settled in the past, it is likely that the tool will be available to other Android smartphones as well, which is a good step towards enhancing accessibility in general.

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