Google earlier this week released an impressive Google Maps feature I said I hope I’ll never need to use: Improved voice-guided navigation for blind and visually impaired people. A few days later, Google released another accessibility feature that I hope I’ll never be forced to use. Just like the Google Maps feature, this one isn’t only targeting people with disabilities, and might actually come in handy in a bunch of different scenarios.
First announced at Google I/O a few months ago, Live Caption will be available on the new Pixel 4 phones, and will hit older Pixel hardware later this year, including the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. Other Android handsets might also get it next year, although Google didn’t mention any brands or devices.
What the feature does is automatically caption any video you play on your mobile device, whether it’s from YouTube, Instagram, or videos that you record yourself. That’s excellent news not only for the more than 466 million people who are deaf or suffering from other hearing deficiencies, but for anyone else looking to enjoy a video without bothering others. Live Caption can also be useful if you don’t quite understand what a person is saying.
The feature will be available on any video with a single tap, but that doesn’t cover phone or video calls.
Live Caption happens in real-time and “completely on-device,” Google explains, which means you’ll see the captions appear immediately on the screen without having to worry about connectivity or buffering. The captions always stay private, Google says, and won’t leave the device. As you can see in the animation above, you can also move the captions out of the way, so they don’t block the actual content you’re trying to watch.
Developed in collaboration with deaf and hard of hearing communities, Live Caption will be available initially in English, with support for other languages rolling out down the road.