Latest version of Chrome adds real-time captions for video and audio on PC/Mac

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Live captions is a feature that Google has been testing out on the desktop version of Chrome for some time now, as a means to assist hearing impaired users better understand video and audio. Now the feature is available on the latest version of Chrome 89, with XDA Developers spotting it earlier this week.

The feature, which was launched in 2019 exclusively for the Pixel 4, is now being made available on a wider range of platforms following this latest release. It transcribes both video and audio played via the browser on Windows PC or Mac at the time of writing, requiring audio files to be downloaded first in order to operate.

Having tried it out on a few YouTube videos already, the level of accuracy is relatively high, although videos where there is any crosstalk does pose a bit of a problem.

That said, it is an issue that the closed captioning in YouTube also struggles with. One of the interesting aspects to the Chrome version, is that it will work even with the audio for a video is muted, which means you can use it in public without disturbing others, if headphones are not on hand.

The only caveat right now is a lack of support for languages outside of English. As Google has not officially announced the availability of the feature, perhaps a few more languages are being added to the mix before the company is ready to announce live captions proper.

If you want to check out the feature, head to your settings in Chrome and ensure you have the most up to date version of the browser, which should be 89. After that, the live captions option can be found in the Accessibility tab of the Advanced section and toggle the feature on. A quick 10 second file download should be prompted. After that, open up a fresh browser tab and test it out for yourself.

The captions should appear in a rectangular box at the bottom of your browser window from there.

Now we need to wait for Google to port this feature to other smartphones.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.