Google Duo, one of the more successful video chatting apps from the Mountain View giant, has been receiving a steady stream of updates in the years since its launch in 2016, making it a viable alternative to its competitors such as Messenger, WhatsApp, and Skype. Now, another new feature that might be making it to the app is a live caption feature.
Spotted by Jane Manchun Wong, a famous individual known for reverse engineering code to spot hidden features, the feature lets users turn on “captions for messages” through a toggle in the settings. This feature would likely display a text transcription of an ongoing video/audio call, similar to the Live Caption feature on Pixel devices. It is especially useful for those that are hard of hearing. It must be noted, however, that there is no proof of the feature being a real-time transcription service and that there still is ambiguity on what the feature exactly is.
Google Duo is working on messages transcription pic.twitter.com/kEltrIKULj— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) February 27, 2020
What’s interesting is that unlike Live Caption on the Pixel, the audio content is not transcribed on the device. The toggle description explicitly mentions that the audio will be sent to Google for transcription. This means that the feature would need the device connected to a reliable internet connection for seamless and lag-free transcription if it is done in real-time. In contrast, the Live Caption feature leverages the computational prowess on the phone to provide real-time text captions.
There is no official word on when this capability will roll out to the app. The addition of this ability to Duo would be appreciated by those that use such accessibility features, in turn broadening its user base. With Google raking up partnerships to integrate Duo into third-party devices, the company is surely aiming to widen the reach of its video-calling service.