At Google’s 2019 I/O event, the company first announced its Live Captions feature. The tool uses on-device machine learning models to detect spoken English in various media. It then proceeds to generate and display automatic captions. The feature was originally made available only on the Google Pixel 4. Ever since, it has however expanded to some older Pixel phones, the Samsung Galaxy S20, OnePlus 7t, and the OnePlus 8. The feature itself had however seen no update since then. Although now it seems the company is bringing Google Live Captions to phone calls. Also Read - Google to make identity verification mandatory for all advertisers
While examining the latest Android 11 Developer Preview 3 on a Google Pixel 4, XDA noticed something new. The new code is found in the teardown of the Device Personalization Services apk. This is the app used for Live Captions. The teardown revealed a line of code that suggests that users may soon have the ability to turn Live captions on over a phone call. Also Read - Google Stadia user base surges after free 2 month offer, mobile app crosses 1 million installs
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When you enable Google Live Captions over a phone call, an audio file will be played to inform participants that the call is being transcribed in real-time. A preset audio file will play in such a situation. As per some more code found in the apk, the line will say “Hi, the person you’re about to speak with has call captions turned on. They’ll see captions of what you say to help them listen along.” Also Read - Google Meet to rival Zoom with new AI-based noise cancelling and light-enhancing features
Note that the current API that Google Live Captions require to function, does not allow capturing of voice call audio. This will be the AudioPlaybackCaptureConfiguration API. However, new system-only permission may change this later on. System-only permission would allow only system apps to access your call, not risking it falling in the hands of a third-party app.
It is also worth noting that just because the code was found on the new developer preview, does not guarantee the arrival of the feature to Android. The feature, while present, still remains unimplemented in the new build, and Google may pull it back at any time. So we wouldn’t get our hopes too high, for now.