Last year at I/O, Google announced a series of new accessibility features for Android, one of which was Live Caption. Essentially, this capability allows for a device to recognize speech in any video the user might be watching on the phone, and add subtitles to the video in real-time. The feature ended up rolling out to the Pixel 4 family in October, followed by other Pixels and select Android devices.
Now, the feature seems to be coming to the desktop thanks to Chrome. As spotted by Techdows, Google has now added a flag for live captions in Chrome Canary, which is disabled by default. In order to enable it, you’ll need to be on Chrome version 84.0.4136.2 or newer, and visit Chrome’s flag configuration page to find the “Live Captions” setting. Upon enabling it and restarting the browser, you’ll then need to enable the feature again through Chrome’s accessibility settings page.
Google’s YouTube already offers its own automatic captions in videos, but with this setting in the browser, it’ll be possible to have captions on any media playing in Chrome. The setting is mostly useful for those with hearing impairments, but it could also be helpful for those trying to learn English, for example. It should be noted that, on Android, the feature only supports English, and it’s likely the same applies here.
Seeing as the feature is still hidden away, it may be some time before it becomes more widely available for Chrome users. It’s also possible that Google will push this change upstream to the Chromium project, so browsers such as Microsoft’s Edge could potentially benefit from it as well.