Google may be preparing call-recording functionality with built-in transcription

Google is preparing a feature within the phone app that will permit device owners to not only record but transcribe phone calls, according to 9to5Google. The feature appears as an option within the app and alerts call participants that call recording has begun and completed.

The way the recording functionality works seems to answer privacy concerns over the recording of calls themselves. Earlier versions of Android had an official call-recording API, but Google removed it in 2015, citing user privacy. Android users were still able to record calls through a backdoor that worked with third-party apps up until Android 8.1 though, but the company closed that loophole in Android 9.0 Pie in 2018.

With the discovery of the as-yet-unannounced feature earlier this month by Android beta testers, it does appear that the company is reconsidering its stance by at least allowing an official method to record calls.

When recording starts, a voice message plays stating that the call is being recorded, with another stating that the call is no longer being recorded when recording stops. This likely satisfies legal requirements for notification that exist in many countries, most notably the European Union’s GDPR regulations, some of the strongest privacy protections in the world.

The transcription functionality appears similar to what Google introduced with the Recorder app with the Pixel 4 smartphone. While testers have not been able to get the transcription feature to work, XDA Developers reported that code exists to enable such a feature in the future.

It is unclear when Google plans to release the feature, however phone manufacturer Xiaomi previously promised that such a feature would be “obtainable” sometime this year. Whether that means the uncovered functionality is intended to fulfill Xiaomi’s promised recording functionality or part of new planned functionality for all Android phones is not known.

The Google Phone app is currently the default dialer app on Google Pixel, Android One, and Xiaomi’s European smartphones, so it’s likely if we see the functionality go live, these devices would see it first. So far, Google has not confirmed that the functionality exists, nor its plans for implementation.

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