Is Android’s Live Transcribe Really Useful?

Android’s Live Transcribe uses Google’s speech recognition technology to deliver an immediate transcription of a conversation.

There is no doubt this is great for the hard of hearing and can let deaf people have phone conversations, which is wonderful. This also makes it possible to have conversations in multiple languages, as it translates for you. How accurate this is remains to be seen, with Google translate only being around 50% accurate most of the time, (and this is perhaps a generous amount). One of the problems with this is rather than say ‘I don’t know’, Google guesses, and usually it guesses wrong, offering as fact a total nonsense sentence. It also doesn’t take into account multiple meanings of the same word, or different customs from different countries.

If its use was limited to this helping people who are hard of hearing, or friends converse in different languages, then it would be a wondrous invention. Unfortunately people are now looking at it to replace human transcriptionists, and this is where it just doesn’t do a good job.

Google themselves have admitted their transcription is not trustworthy, but say they are working on this to make it better.

Live Transcribe struggles, or finds it impossible, to distinguish between speakers. Is can’t handle quick speech very well, too many or too long pauses and people who mumble or do not speak clearly also cause difficulties. This probably rules out a large part of any meeting for Live Transcribe.

At present the phone with Live Transcribe has to be near the person speaking, and if used for a this meeting just isn’t possible, never mind a conference where audience questions could be an important part.

In short, we at Singapore Transcription are not worried about Live Transcribe being serious competition, as it does not give accurate results, something we strive very hard to do.

There is nothing to beat a human transcription, not only for the words spoken, but also recognising tomes, inflections and often what is not said.