An Inexpensive Solution to Live Transcribe’s Android Only Problem

My recent post The Next Best Thing in Speech to Text Apps generated much discussion. Many people were excited by Google’s Live Transcribe technology — the accuracy and speed of the captioning is notable — but the fact that it is only available on Android devices was a source of frustration. One highly motivated individual in my local NYC hearing loss community found an inexpensive solution to the Android problem that is worth sharing.

She purchased a cheap Android phone at Best Buy leaving it inactivated for cell and data service, downloaded the Live Transcribe App from the Google Play store, and now uses the phone as her own personal captioning device! Brilliant!

I quickly followed suit, as did several others in my local hearing loss community. You can see the phone she purchased here on the Best Buy website. At the time of this writing, the price for the “Activate Later” phone was $59.99.

An Android phone works differently from an iPhone — swipe up to open the lock screen — but I quickly caught on and easily set up the device. You will need to sign in to your Gmail account or create a new one in order to use the Google Play store, but if you buy the phone in a physical store, ask the salesperson to help you set it up and you may be able to skip that step.

To avoid complicating my current email set-up, I created a new Gmail account for the sole purpose of accessing the Google Play store on this device. The phone is so small and light, I have been carrying it with me in my purse everywhere I go so I can use it for captioning help any place there is WiFi.

There may be other inexpensive Android devices available in different markets. Check out your local electronics store to assess your options, or shop online. If you are interested in using Google’s Live Transcribe but, like me, didn’t want to swap out your iPhone, this might be just the solution for you.

Readers, would you purchase an additional device to use solely for captioning?

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46 thoughts on “An Inexpensive Solution to Live Transcribe’s Android Only Problem

  1. Helpful interim work around for a very useful app. However I suggest Apple users advocate for Live Transcribe for Apple devices; demand creates market opportunities!

  2. Android app…live transcribe, is good..but, it’s not 100% accurate… there are several other transcription apps, that you can get, on Apple, or for Android (…iHearU2; Active Voice; AVA).

  3. After seeing the original blog, I too was highly motivated to find a way to have this technology on my iPhone.
    I looked into buying an android device to be used exclusively with the app. Really not a great solution for me, due to the lack of WiFi connectivity in so many places I want to use it. I saw that a few comments mentioned apps available on iPhone. AVA works very well, love that anyone I interact with can also download it, scan a QR code from my phone and each person’s text appears in a different color. However after the free unlimited 30 day trial, you get a very limited amount of time for free, or have to subscribe for $30 a month. Which seems pretty pricey. The development of this technology improves all the time, which is really encouraging for the entire hearing impaired community.

  4. I’m quite curious about the android device (phone) you bought as I thought of this solution too but have almost no experience on android and want to be sure to buy a good enough device: can you share make/model please?
    Thanks for sharing

  5. you can use this for hearing other people??? can you connect it to another phone? I may soon be in desperate need of something like this if it works how I’m hoping

  6. Am I understanding that there is no other cost to use this app other than the cost of the phone? If Wi-Fi is needed, isn’t there a cost associated with that?

    • Many public places / restaurants have free Wi-Fi available to use, but to use it at home you would need Wi-Fi there. Many people have that for other purposes as well. Hope that helps.

    • I am specifically looking to use Live Transcribe in my synagogue during services. The hearing environment is so reverberant there that my (very expensive) hearing aids simply do not work anymore. There is no access to wifi there, so I am looking for a cheap wireless carrier plan to facilitate the use of this essential assistive technology. I saw it demonstrated by a friend in that environment recently and it works beautifully. Having it would mean the difference between participating or not participating i n my community.

  7. If someone needs WiFi couldn’t they simply use their regular phone as a hotspot? That is what I would do! I love the idea of doing this and will definitely look into it.

  8. Could you give examples of places you use this idea? Since it only works if one person speaks at a time and not in noise, I’m having trouble picturing a lot of uses- but sounds like you have found them!

  9. Shari
    At a class I taught last week , one day due to an admin snafu the interpreters did not show. I gave the student my android phone with Live Transcribe and voila she was part of the clas.

    • Activate now means you buy the phone and activate the cell service. Usually you get a discounted phone price when you do that. Activate later means you just buy the phone and not the cell service. You can either add the service later or not. In my case I didn’t activate because I only use the device for Live Transcribe and don’t want the extra monthly expense of a second cell number. Hope that helps.

  10. Fortunately, I remembered that we have a Nexus (Android) tablet. I downloaded Live Transcribe and it works amazingly well! We will be experimenting with it.

  11. Thank you for this excellent idea! I bought a Google Pixe 3a to be used for direct streaming with my ReSound LiNX Quattro hearing aid. Loved the Pixel until I realized I wasn’t getting a ringtone for outgoing phone calls to people who have the same phone service provider. I spent several frustrating days contacting Resound, my phone carrier, and Google Pixel customer service to resolve the problem with no resolution. My son suggested I pair my hearing aid with my husband’s iphone to see if that would pinpoint if the hearing aid or the Pixel was the device with the issue. There was absolutely no problem getting a ringtone with the iphone. I reluctantly exchanged the Pixel for a more expensive iphone. I really liked the Live Transcribe feature because it worked so well and if I put it on the table during a conversation I didn’t need to ask people to repeat themselves. Now I can use my old android for just the Live Transcribe app.

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