Today, Google introduced the affordable Pixel 4a, its new mid-range smartphone featuring a Snapdragon 730G, 6GB, and 128GB of internal storage, for $349. Being a Pixel device, it also comes with some interesting software features, like Google's Recorder app that transcribes speech into text and makes the recording searchable, or Live Caption, which can automatically add captions to video and audio content in real time.
The latter of those features is getting an upgrade starting today, an announcement that Google hid in the Pixel 4a blog post. Now, in addition to captioning videos, Live Caption will also work with audio and voice calls, showing captions for the audio in real time. The capability isn't exclusive to the newest phone, either, and it will work with Pixel devices all the way back to the Pixel 2 family launched in 2017.
As usual, Live Caption is a feature that works locally on the device, and Google reiterates that audio and captions never leave your phone and aren't saved in any way. Additionally, users on the other end of the call get notified with an audio signal when captions are enabled.
Google was reported to be working on adding support for Live Caption in Duo calls a few months ago, but it seems like it should work for any kind of call. It should be noted that apps have the option to opt out of sharing audio streams with the operating system, so third-party apps that support calling may not support live captions.