March 17th, 2020
Recently, I was at my friend’s family gathering, where her grandmother told a story from her childhood. I could see that she was excited to share it with everyone but there was a problem—she told the story in Spanish, a language that I don’t understand. I pulled out Google Translate to transcribe the speech as it was happening. As she was telling the story, the English translation appeared on my phone so that I could follow along—it fostered a moment of understanding that would have otherwise been lost. And now anyone can do this—starting today, you can use the Google Translate Android app to transcribe foreign-language speakers as it’s happening.
Transcribe will be rolling out in the next few days with support for any combination of the following eight languages: English, French, German, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.
To try the transcribe feature, go to your Translate app on Android, and make sure you have the latest updates from the Play store. Tap on the “Transcribe” icon from the home screen and select the source and target languages from the language dropdown at the top. You can pause or restart transcription by tapping on the mic icon. You also can see the original transcript, change the text size or choose a dark theme in the settings menu.
We’ll continue to make speech translations available in a variety of situations. Right now, the transcribe feature will work best in a quiet environment with one person speaking at a time. In other situations, the app will still do its best to provide the gist of what’s being said. Conversation mode in the app will continue to help you to have a back and forth translated conversation with someone.
Try it out and give us feedback on how we can be better.