A year ago, Google introduced two accessibility apps for Android: Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier. As the name implies, the first one lets deaf and hard-of-hearing people use their phones to instantly transcribe any conversation around them and read it on their screen. The app has now been updated to v3.0 and gained two new features: Custom words and Vibrate when name is spoken.

Left: Live Transcribe v2.1's settings. Right: v3.0.

The two additions aim to make the app even more helpful to the person using it. By entering custom words, the phone won't struggle to recognize some names or words that aren't part of the official dictionary but that you or people around you use on a daily basis. I added "Khoury," my family name, and as soon as I said it aloud, the app recognized it instead of coming up with some different spelling or trying to transcribe it as "courier." Unfortunately, there's no way to tell the phone exactly how the word is supposed to be pronounced, so in my case, I had to say it as "koo-ree" to get it transcribed, whereas the proper pronunciation in Arabic is more like "Joo-ree" where the J is similar to the hard Spanish J in Jesus or José. I'm hoping a manual pronunciation entry will be added later so custom words can be properly recognized even if their spelling differs from the way people say them.

  

Left: Vibrate for names. Middle: Custom words. Right: Proper transcription of 'Khoury.'

The second feature gets the phone to vibrate when a specific name is spoken. This would be perfect when you're waiting in line somewhere and don't want to keep staring at your phone to see when your name gets called. You can keep the app running, hold your device, enjoy what's around you, and it'll vibrate as soon as it detects your name. I'm sure there are plenty of other situations where it would come in handy. I tested this on my phone too, after adding "Rita" as a trigger, and the moment I said my name, the phone vibrated in my hand while continuing the transcription. It worked every time and with different speech speeds — impressive.

To try these new features, you need Live Transcribe 3.0, which is currently rolling out on the Play Store. We also have the file on APK Mirror if you'd rather sideload it.

  • Thanks:
  • Anthony Maki