Later this year, Zoom plans to make a live AI-based transcription feature available to everyone — paid account or otherwise. If you'd rather not wait for the handy accessibility feature freebie, you can also request access to it early.
Zoom has had automated transcription since last year, courtesy of third-party service integrations. But in October, a new Live Transcription was spotted in the wild. We aren't sure if the company's first-party feature is in any way based on the prior third-party integrations or not, but it promises automatic captioning, free of the manual input process imposed by the existing closed-captioning system — presumably similar to Google's Live Caption feature for Pixel phones.
Today's announcement isn't exactly clear about how the feature may have manifest before now. Zoom says the feature "will be called 'Live Transcription'" (emphasis ours), implying that it doesn't exist yet. However, there seem to be reports of it dating to last year, and the company's own support documents that predate this announcement also call it out. I can't say we've dug around regularly enough in Zoom's accessibility settings ourselves to know what might have changed over the recent months.
Either way, the Live Transcription feature will be free for everyone "in the fall of 2021." To tide over those that need it before then, meeting hosts can also sign up to have the feature added to their accounts now for free.