The Pixel 4 will debut with Google’s Live Caption feature, bringing automatic captioning to any audio or video played on the devices. (Except for phone and video calls.)
“Live Caption is an automatic captioning system that is fast and small enough to fit on a smartphone,” Google’s Brian Kemler explains. “Live Caption is helpful whether you’re on a loud commuter train, trying not to wake a baby, or want to follow along the conversation more closely … If it has audio, now it can have captions.”
Live Captions is part of a continuum of similar features that Google has unveiled across its services over the years, from YouTube’s automatic captions to the Live Transcribe app that will also debut on the Pixel 4. And it’s not just aimed at the 466 million people worldwide who are deaf or hard of hearing, though that audience will obviously benefit the most: It can be used by anyone who wishes to enjoy content but can’t play the audio for whatever reason.
Live Caption will be available via the on-screen volume controls on any audio or video, besides phone calls and video calls, that are played on the handset. The captioning is automatic and happens in real-time, and it works even without a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. You can even tap the caption box to see more text at once, and you can move it around on-screen.
According to Kemler, Google worked with Deaf and hard of hearing communities to build Live Caption and related features like Live Transcribe. It supports English now, but Google plans to support more languages in the near future. It will also improve the quality of automatic captions over time, too, of course.
After debuting on the Pixel 4, Live Caption will roll out to Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 3a XL later this year, Google says. And it is working with its hardware partners to bring the feature to other handsets in 2020.