I love captions and look for them everywhere I go — even when they are not there. Last week at my daughter’s high school play, my eyes would involuntarily slide to the side looking for the caption screen anytime I missed some of the dialogue. The play was not captioned, but my reflex to look for the text anyway made me laugh.
So when I read about the new Google Live Transcribe app (available only on Android so far) I was eager to try it. I have tested other speech to text apps over the years, but none had really done the trick — the accuracy was typically poor and the timing was stilted. Still, these apps are sometimes better than nothing and usually good for a laugh or two when the captions really miss the mark.
As a participant in Google’s Accessibility Trusted Tester program, I received a Google Pixel Slate to use for upcoming product assessments. It is my first Android device and allowed me to take Live Transcribe out for a test run. For the record, I was not a Trusted Tester when Live Transcribe was being developed or I would not be able to write about it. Trusted Tester activities are covered under a strict confidentiality agreement — rightly so. If you are interested in becoming a Trusted Tester, you can learn more and apply here. It is currently only available for people in the United Sates.
Live Transcribe Did Well In My Test
I tried the Live Transcribe app at a recent board meeting and I was amazed at the results. During the full day of discussions, the app was able to accurately pick up dialogue from across the crowded table. The captions appeared in real-time so it was easy to follow the conversation. It only fell down when the speaker had an accent. Surprisingly, the captions from Live Transcribe were sometimes more accurate and timely than those from the CART provider.
Live Transcribe is still in beta testing so there are a number of items that could be improved. First, the text appears in one long stream of words. It does not label different speakers or add any line breaks to indicate when a new person talks. This makes it difficult to quickly scan through the text to find the word or phrase you missed. Hopefully this feature will be added to future versions. Secondly, it is only available for Android devices, but this may change once things are perfected. See this post for an inexpensive solution to the Android only problem.
Despite its flaws, Live Transcribe is the most accurate and timely speech-to-text app I have ever used. I am eager to see how it continues to develop. The application would be life changing for people with hearing loss, providing captioning services at will, but also for those who need translation services. According to Google’s website, “Live Transcribe is available in over 70 languages and dialects. It also enables two-way conversation via a type-back keyboard for users who can’t or don’t want to speak, and connects with external microphones to improve transcription accuracy.”
To gauge the reliability of the transcription for yourself, take a closer look at the image in this blog. As an experiment, I read this post into the transcriber and this is what I got. There are some errors, and the punctuation is wrong, but the overall accuracy is quite good. It is likely to only get better.
Readers, would you try Google Live Transcribe?
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