Android 10’s unexpected gem | Computerworld

Android 10’s unexpected gem | Computerworld

Android 10 is filled with both high-profile interface changes (hello, gestures!) and important under-the-hood enhancements (better privacy controls — whee!).

But you know what? Having lived with the software for a while now, the feature that’s stood out the most to me is something far less conspicuous. It’s not something I ever expected to care about or use myself, in fact, despite its undeniable significance for some people.

It’s a new system-level function called Live Caption. It’s actually designed to be an accessibility feature, built primarily for folks who are hard of hearing. But just like other Android accessibility features, it has the potential to be broadly useful for just about anyone.

What Live Caption does is simple: When you activate it — by tapping a box that appears beneath the volume controls whenever any type of media is playing on your phone — it puts a box on your screen with a live, real-time transcription of everything that’s being said.

Android 10 Live Caption (1)

Flip the switch in the volume panel (left), and ta-da: Instant real-time captioning of anything, including an exceptionally engaging podcast (right).

The utility for people who have trouble hearing is obvious, and that in and of itself is immeasurable. But the broader benefit for anyone, as I’ve discovered, is that the Live Caption system makes it possible to see what a video’s all about or even to “listen in” to part of a podcast without having to have any actual sound blaring from your phone.

When would that matter, you might be wondering? Well, picture this: You’re sitting somewhere relatively quiet — a place where only a barbarian would be boorish enough to blare audio from their phone with complete disregard for the people around them. Maybe it’s a restaurant, maybe it’s a bus, maybe it’s a lecture, or maybe it’s your own home in the evening whilst someone else is slumbering nearby. And you don’t have any headphones handy or hooked up to your cellular telephone apparatus at the moment.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.


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