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Android Q's live video captions are pretty awesome. Here's how you'll turn them on

Watching videos may never be the same.

Sometimes it's the little things that make a big impact. Live Caption for Android Q might just be one of those features. It gives you on-the-fly transcription of the audio in any video: podcasts, CNET videos, the shaky hand-cam your sister took of her kids. Live Caption isn't restricted to a YouTube video or Google Duo call. 

Imagine you're in a crowded or noisy location and you can't hear what's happening in the video. Or the audio on the clip is garbled. Or maybe you or someone you love is hard of hearing, the person speaking has speech patterns you can't quite make out or you want to keep the volume extremely low so you won't bother the people around you. Live Caption can lend a hand.

Live Caption uses on-device machine learning, a similar technology to Smart Reply, which produces those little suggestions you see below your composition window when you send an email. All transcription happens on your phone and Google says it doesn't save or otherwise access the transcripts. Live Caption will be available for Android Q later this year. 


Live captioning will turn the audio of any video into text.

James Martin/CNET

The demo I saw at Google I/O was of a prerecorded video, so we'll have to see the feature go live before we know how fast transcription happens. But after the lightning-round transcription we saw with the next-gen Google Assistant, Google has certainly indicated it has the technology to pull this off.

While Live Caption isn't currently available for use on Android Q beta 3 just yet (we tried), I thought I'd share how it'll work when you get a chance to use it.

How you'll use Live Caption in Android Q

1: Tap the volume button -- either up or down, it doesn't matter.

2: When the onscreen volume slider appears, tap the icon below it.

3: Play the video.

4. When the live transcription appears, you can drag the text box to move it around the screen.

5: Optionally, tap the text box to expand it.

Now playing: Watch this: Android Q beta: What's new?