Google Announces Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier Apps for Hearing-Impaired Users

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With the World Health Organization estimating that by the year 2055, there will be 900 million people with hearing loss. Google introduced two new apps for Android designed to help deaf and hard-of-hearing people: Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier. These two apps will be available for Android Pie and above. Live Transcribe “takes real-world speech and turns it into real-time captions using just the phone’s microphone”. Sound Amplifier makes “audio more clear and easier to hear. You can use Sound Amplifier on your Android smartphone with wired headphones to filter, augment and amplify the sounds in your environment. It works by increasing quiet sounds, while not over-boosting loud sounds.”

“We believe in the power of technology to help break down barriers and make life a little easier for everyone,” Brian Kemler, product manager at Google’s Android Accessibility team, wrote in a blog post. “With both Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier, our goal is to help the hundreds of millions of people who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate more clearly.”

Sound Amplifier sound amplifier

To start using Sound Amplifier, go to Settings > Accessibility > Sound Amplifier.

Sound Amplifier enhances microphone audio from your Android device using headphones to provide a more comfortable and natural listening experience.

• Carry on conversations in loud environments by boosting quiet sounds.
• Personalise your listening experience by adjusting audio or microphone settings with the simple tuning UI.
• Reduce unwanted or distracting noises.

Permissions Notice
• Phone: Needed to know the phone state to pause Sound Amplifier when there’s an incoming or outgoing call.
• Microphone: Needed for real-time audio processing.

Live Transcribe Live Transcribe

To enable Live Transcribe, go to your phone Settings > Accessibility > Live Transcribe.

Live Transcribe is a new accessibility service built by Google for the deaf and hard of hearing. Using Google’s state-of-the-art automatic speech recognition technology, Live Transcribe performs real-time transcription of speech to text on your screen, so you can participate in conversations going on in the world around you. You can also keep the conversation going by typing your response on the screen.

• Supports transcription in over 70 languages and dialects
• Bilingual support with quick switch between two languages
• Our transcript is as good as the audio we receive from the microphone. That’s why Live Transcribe supports external microphones found in wired headsets, Bluetooth headsets, and USB mics.
• Loudness and noise indicator shows the volume level of the speaker’s voice relative to the noise of the environment
• Reply without speaking by typing your responses within the app
• Optional haptic feedback signals you when somebody starts or resumes speaking
• Available on Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and later
• Private – Conversation transcripts stay secure on your device

Permissions Notice
Microphone: Live Transcribe needs microphone access to transcribe the speech around you. The audio is not stored after the transcript is processed

Final Thoughts

Google Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier can both be spotted under Accessibility Settings on a smartphone running Android Pie. While Live Transcribe is available in early access limited beta through the Play Store, Sound Amplifier is available on the Play Store but works only on devices running Android 9 Pie.

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