Android 10’s Live Caption is coming to phone calls. Here’s how to use it

Android 10‘s Live Caption was one of the headline announcements of that version of Android — and now, Google is expanding them to also work with phone calls. If you’re deaf, have some hearing loss, or maybe just want to watch video without the sound, then live captioning could be a feature that you’re excited about.

It’s already capable, even without this upcoming feature. Live Caption can automatically caption any video, podcast, or audio message on your phone. It even works with videos or audio files you’ve recorded yourself. You don’t need to have an internet connection for this to work, and it doesn’t send any data to Google — everything is handled locally on the phone.

The good news is that it’s available now, but you do need to have the right phone for it to work.

Devices that support Live Caption now

So far, the list of supported devices is fairly short:

  • Google Pixel 4a
  • Google Pixel 4
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
  • Google Pixel 3a
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
  • Google Pixel 3
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
  • Google Pixel 2
  • Google Pixel 2 XL

Is it just available on Pixel phones?

At the moment, yes. However, Google has said, “We’re working closely with other Android phone manufacturers to make it more widely available in the coming year,” so hopefully the list of supported devices will grow soon. However, it may be that we won’t see wide inclusion of this feature until devices start updating to Android 11.

How to turn on Live Captions in Android 10

If you have a supported phone, here’s how to turn on Live Caption. We used a Pixel 4 for this guide.

  1. Find the video, podcast, or other content that you want to caption and start playing it.
  2. Press the volume up or down button.
  3. You’ll see a caption icon below the volume controls, simply tap it and a Live Caption box will appear on the screen. If you don’t see the icon, go to Settings > Sound > Live Caption and make sure Live Caption in volume control is toggled on.
  4. You can tap and drag the caption box anywhere you like on screen.
  5. To turn it off, tap volume up or down again and tap that caption icon.

For anyone that prefers to have Live Caption on all the time, go to Settings > Sound > Live Caption and toggle Live Caption at the top on. That way you’ll get live captions every time speech is detected.

If it’s the first time you’ve used Live Caption, then you’ll see a message that states, “Live Caption detects speech in media and automatically generates captions. When media is playing, this feature uses additional battery. All audio and captions are processed on the device and never stored or sent to Google. Currently available in English only.”

Live Captions is coming to phone calls

You may have missed this announcement during the launch of the Pixel 4a, but Live Captions is also coming to phone calls. It’s not available yet, but we expect it to be arriving soon, and it’ll be available on every phone with existing Live Caption support.

One of the reasons it’s taken so long to arrive is that screenshotting the captions could be similar to call recording — which isn’t legal everywhere without consent. To get around this, the Google Assistant will interrupt when Live Caption is toggled on, and will inform the person on the other end of the call that everything they say is being transcribed.

Live Caption works really well on the Pixel 4, and hopefully we’ll see it roll out to a lot more phones in the near future. In the meantime, there are plenty of other Android 10 features worth digging into.

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