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Google Chrome Live Caption feature can be a game changer if it works right

Google has introduced Live Caption feature to its web browser Chrome on desktops. Already available on smartphones, the feature will help translate any audio or video being played through the browser into on-screen words.

twitter-logoSarthak Dogra | March 19, 2021 | Updated 16:41 IST

Highlights

  • The new Live Caption feature will generate captions for any audio and video played on the Chrome browser.
  • The feature was already available on all mobile devices.
  • Google says that the feature will help 466 million people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Google is pushing out an exciting new feature for the users of Chrome on desktops. Named Live Caption, the feature will allow users to caption any audio and video that they play on the web browser.

Many might have experienced it as an Android accessibility feature for some time now. Live Caption by itself is not new, but it does come as a big addition to Google Chrome on desktop. The rollout will bring the on-screen translation that we used on our smartphones to our web surfing sessions on desktops too.

But for those who have not used the feature first-hand, Live Caption translates any audio playing through the browser into words that appear on-screen. It is much like the Subtitles feature on YouTube that detects words in a video and makes them appear as subtitles.

Live Caption on Chrome is further meant to help "466 million people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing," Google notes in a blog. The feature will also help those in a noisy environment or who are trying to keep the volume down considering their surroundings.

The bottom line - "Captions make online content more accessible." Google promises that Live Caption will work across social media sites, video platforms, podcasts and radio content and "most web-based video or audio chat services." It will also generate captions for personal videos like those stored in Google Photos or those in embedded video players.

Live Captions in Chrome: A game-changing feature?

The feature will have much more implications than the clearly observable. Note that most of the top-strata online platforms have their tools for generating captions on all sorts of audio/ video content. So do smartphones, with several apps available on the app stores for the purpose, in addition to Screen Readers as accessibility options within the phones.

So what exactly will the introduction of Live Caption to Chrome on desktops accomplish? The answer might lie in the not-so-developed sections of the Internet.

Chrome is the most used web browser in the world. Most of this user base is still on desktops and laptops. Couple that with the fact that there are still websites and online services with a digital presence not as refined as that of the bigwigs. You can often see them as small e-commerce stores or learning websites.

Live Captions, if it works as it is meant to, will help add a whole new audience to such platforms. Imagine reading college lectures, online tutorials and other such content on your desktop instead of just trying to listen to what is being said.

Bonus, it will work on local files too, when opened in the browser.

The success of the feature here depends majorly on the accuracy of the translation. A prior experience with the feature on our smartphone ensures us of its accuracy. Since the same tool is being used for the desktop version, Live Caption is sure to be a handy accessibility option.

How to enable Live Captions on Chrome

To turn on Live Captions on your Chrome browser -

Open Chrome Settings > click on the Advanced section > go to the Accessibility section > switch on Live Caption.

The captions are generated on the device and not online. Live Caption will hence work even when there is no Internet connection.

For now, the feature only supports English and is available on the latest release of Chrome on Windows, Mac and Linux devices around the world. Google also promises to bring it to ChromeOS soon.

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