A decade ago, we added automatic captions to videos on YouTube, making online videos more accessible. However, they’re not always available on other types of content—like audio messages from your friends, trending videos on social media feeds or even the stuff you record yourself. It’s hard to enjoy that content if you forgot your headphones and can’t play the audio out loud—or if you’re one of the 466 million people in the world who are Deaf or hard of hearing, that content may be entirely inaccessible.
That’s why we created Live Caption, an automatic captioning system that is fast and small enough to fit on a smartphone. 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.
With the launch of Pixel 4, Live Caption is now officially available to make digital media more accessible. With a single tap, Live Caption automatically captions videos and spoken audio on your device (except phone and video calls). It happens in real time and completely on-device, so it works even if you don’t have cell data or Wi-Fi, and the captions always stay private and never leave your phone. The captions won’t get in the way of whatever you’re looking at because you can position them anywhere on the screen. If you want to see more text, simply double tap to expand the caption box.
Live Caption wouldn’t have been possible without the Deaf and hard of hearing communities who helped guide us from the very beginning. Similar to how we designed Live Transcribe earlier this year, we developed Live Caption in collaboration with individuals from the community and partners like Gallaudet University, the world’s premier university for Deaf and hard of hearing people. An early Deaf tester, Naiajah Wilson, explained how Live Caption would impact her daily life: “Now I don't have to wake up my mom or dad and ask what's being said.”
Today, Live Caption supports English with plans to support more languages in the near future. And while the captions may not always be perfect as it depends on the quality of the sound, we’ll continue to improve the technology over time.
In addition to Pixel 4, Live Caption will roll out to Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL later this year, and we’re working closely with other Android phone manufacturers to make it more widely available in the coming year.
You can learn more about our broader commitment to build for everyone on our new Android Accessibility site.