Google is rolling out Live Captions for desktop on version 89 of Chrome from March 18. The real-time caption feature leverages machine learning to produce real-time transcriptions of your favourite audio and video from within your Chrome browser. Where before you might've had the audio and video innocuously playing in the background, the feature produces automatic transcriptions that can then be saved and revisited. It makes Chrome far more accessible for the hearing impaired.
The feature is really easy to use: launch Google Chrome, hit the Customise button, which is found in the top-right corner of the browser. Once there, click Settings, go to the Advanced heading to expand the section and select Accessibility. There should be an option to switch on Live Captions; however, if you can’t see it, then plug 'chrome://version' into the web browser's address bar, which also tells you whether you're running the speedier 64-bit version of Chrome for Android.
And then sit back, relax, and enjoy Live Captions as it automatically pops-up in a small box. You can shift it to any position on the screen to ensure it's not obscuring what you're doing.
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It's actually not the first time we've heard of this feature, appearing first on Google Pixel phones, then arriving on select models from our best Android phones with the Android 10 update. The Galaxy S20 series, OnePlus 8 Pro, and the OnePlus Nord – all of which had the transcription functionality before today.
We haven't yet used the feature at T3, but it reportedly worked in early tests on Youtube videos, podcast mediums, and "even streaming services like Soundcloud", which should bring users a whole new level of accessibility when using these platforms (via The Verge (opens in new tab)). The feature also works when the audio is muted, affording users the chance to read podcasts or videos without the volume turned up.
One caveat is that Live Captions appears to only deliver English translation at the moment, but you'd hope and surely expect that this will expand soon. There's been an endless stream of Chrome updates recently, not least with the tab management updates that Google has recently rolled out for Android Chrome browsers, but for organising desktop tabs and, most recently, a window naming tool to ease the burden of having multiple windows open in your browser.