If you’re running Android 10 on one of the newer handsets by Google, OnePlus or Samsung, then you might have access to Live Caption – the built-in live transcription feature. Now that feature looks like it’s coming to phone calls as well.
As spotted by XDA Developers, the most recent Android 11 developer preview includes references to switching on Live Caption for a phone call, and the upgrade may well stay in place for the final version of the OS.
Live Caption essentially puts subtitles on videos and audio in real time whenever speech is detected. It leverages Google’s AI to display on screen what’s being said – ideal for those who have hearing difficulties or who are trapped inside quiet spaces.
If the feature rolled out to phone calls as well, you’d be able to see what the person on the other end of the line was saying, even if you couldn’t hear it. Google’s language recognition tools are pretty good nowadays, so you should get an accurate transcription.
When will it arrive?
Of course enabling Live Caption on phone calls would mean the spoken content of a conversation would have to be monitored. Based on the code in Android 11, the caller at the other end gets a notification that Live Caption has been turned on.
This is a technology Google is very keen on: the Recorder app on newer PIxel phones can transcribe spoken audio from lectures, interviews and so on, while it looks as though the Google Phone app will soon be able to record calls as well.
As always though with features in developer previews and betas, it’s not necessarily definite that this extra Live Caption utility is going to make it all the way to the final version of Android 11.
Google hasn’t set an official date for the rolling out of the mobile OS update, though we are expecting it around August or September, most likely on Pixel phones first. Before then, look out for a public beta test that anyone can get involved with.