Pixel 4 launch

Is anybody else following the launch? Live Caption is launching today too apparently.

I am personally most excited about the new camera with "Super Res Zoom " …

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From the link,

Live Caption creates instant, real-time transcriptions for videos, podcasts, and audio messages for any app running on Android Q. As soon as speech is detected, captions appear, even if the app has no native built-in support for captioning. It even captions video and audio recorded by the user.

Now the real killer app is doing this for incoming phone calls.

So now we can transcribe local speech via the phone’s microphone, via Bluetooth (e.g., Connect Clip) microphone, and caption audio from any app that outputs audio, but not for incoming phone calls. Surely apps will appear that do this.

We will see. My Pixel 4XL in on order.

I wonder if the roadblock here is the different laws in various states on recording conversations. Live captioning (especially if one can maintain a transcript?) might be considered recording a phone call. Some states like Texas have very liberal laws - only 1 party involved in a conversation (yourself, for instance) has to consent and the call can be recorded without advising and obtaining consent from the other person, is my recollection. Whereas in other states both (or all) parties involved in a conversation must give their consent for recording to take place. Maybe that’s why phone calls are not included in Live Caption?!

P.S. The reason I am somewhat familiar with this is I wondered about recording audio and video of outdoor scenes in front of my house with a Ring video doorbell. My neighbor, by moving about, triggered the motion alert on my doorbell once, and then the audio and video of her conversing with someone in her front yard was recorded to the cloud. The video part of video recording is a lot more liberal - you can record anything that can be seen in your front yard or a public place from the street, etc. Audio recording is actually more restrictive but I told my neighbors, Hey!, you might be recorded if your motion triggers my doorbell and they had no problem with that - perhaps they like the idea that something is watching our immediate neighborhood. So not to seem to off-topic here but recording speech is something to worry about with HA’s and smartphone apps when potentially HA’s are “mic on” all the time. I wonder if HA OEM’s deliberately avoid, even if they could, offering speech capture and transcription, say via the smartphone app…

I’m not sure why you assume it won’t work for phone calls? Phone calls are handled by an app, and it says “any app”…

I mean as currently offered, it does not appear that Live Caption will transcribe incoming phone calls, because phone calls were not mentioned in the list of audio transcribed. I will verify my conclusion when the new Pixel 4 arrives.

Certainly it appears possible to create an app to transcribe and display incoming phone calls.

That is probably the reason that openly downloadable apps like Live Caption and Live Transcribe may not do it. However there are services that can provide captioning for persons that medically qualify. But their systems appear to rely on interaction with a human transcriber. Now that the ability to transcribe accurately and fast is available with no human involvement or even a network connection such services may hopefully be able to provide qualifying individuals with an app. Even on my Pixel 3 the Live Transcribe app works well enough to be very useful in a live environment.

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This Google blog article indicates Live Captioning will not work on phone and video calls.

Will be available on Pixel 3 and 3a in December.


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Live Caption automatically captions videos and spoken audio on your device (except phone and video calls)

Bummer! I will try to see if I can find out why.


Nice to see the effort Google is putting into accessibility in Android and their acknowledgement of the help they received from folks at Gallaudet University and that Live Caption was designed with the deaf and hard of hearing in mind. Hopefully that commitment means even better things to come. Too bad Sound Amplifier requires a wired headset.

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I can confirm with a Pixel 4 that Live Caption does not work on incoming phone audio, even over bluetooth. It does a fantastic job captioning streamed audio and audio from the Assistant. Very fast and accurate and does not require cloud support, It’s only in English at this time, but is even accurate when persons with heavy accents are speaking. Also works well (to a point) in the presence of music or crowd noise, situations in which I would otherwise not understand anything.

Based on my superficial testing I am convinced that this could be a tremendous help to HOH persons if it could be adapted to display incoming speech from phone calls.

Also the Recorder app is equally fast and accurate when captioning from recorded speech.

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This doesn’t directly relate to Pixel 4, but does seem pertinent to the Live Caption for phoncalls discussion. Anybody heard of this from Phonak? Phonak myCall-to-Text app, apps | Phonak

A reddit post describes the exact hearing problem I have and one HOH person’s experiences with the Pixel 4. There are a large number of responses, but the bottom line is:

With Google showing off Android 10 few months ago the Live Caption really caught my eye. Along with Live Caption they also showed Live Transcribe. Promising to deliver Live Caption to work for phone calls in the future.

Here is the whole thing for those interested.

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Paul Thurrott with the rise of mobile and the relative switchover of consumer app use to mobile has evolved from being a Microsoft Windows guru to a reviewer of the relative merits of devices and software for Windows, iOS/Mac, and Goggle devices and apps. He has in the past touted the superiority of both Apple and Google phones (but has praised HuaWei entries in the past).

He has a very in-depth review of the Pixel 4 XL, with gorgeous photos of his environs in the Lower Macungie Valley(!) in eastern Pennsylvania. As a reviewer, he’s in business to be critical and some would say that he sometimes (often?!) overdoes it (in the past I’ve sometimes thought that he engages in “man bites dog” journalism - taking a relatively minor problem and making a big deal out of it, etc., to have something to write about). But I’d say I’ve found his reviews for the most part, honest and balanced and not in the fanboy realm as if often the case with sites that depend on a particular type of device/OS as their basis for making a living. Unfortunately, he doesn’t cover Pixel 4 XL streaming capabilities. I’m providing this Thurrott “background” as a perspective to reading his review. It’s worth looking at the review just for the lessons in photography, framing, etc., his pictures provide (he went to art school straight out of high school but quickly concluded his chances of making a living and supporting a family as an artist weren’t all that great-judging by his lifestyle now, he made a good choice back then).

Interesting that he has a reputation of being critical–one of the more flattering reviews of the Pixel 4 I’ve seen. GSMArena wasn’t as flattering.

If I did go to an Android phone it would be a google device.

Yes, I’ve seen a review of the Pixel 4’s that says the Pixel 4/4 XL can have serious white balance problems with big section of red color in a picture. Compares results with iPhone vs. Pixel 4. But presumably that’s something that can be corrected with a software/firmware update to the Pixel (but looking just now, it seems Google has issued a fix and users are complaining, too, as to what the fix does!)

Much of the problem is illustrated with Hue lighting in which the main source of illumination is pink/red lights. That’s a pretty unusual situation for most people. I imagine the situation arises in “off-color” photos (pardon the pun!) where there is little in the photo to guide the AI software in the device as to what the true white balance should be.

My overall feel from the group of reviews I’ve read is kind of a “Meh.” One thing I found interesting (I think it was from GSMArena) was criticizing their implementation of Android–saying OnePlus did Android better than Google. I found that comment amusing. Of note, Pixel 3 (and presumably 4) phones are loved by cavers for the way the do low light photography. I’m really curious if and when they’ll come out with a 4a model. The 3a was pretty universally liked for being good value. I think that’s the issue with Google’s Flagships is that they don’t quite compete with Apple, Samsung and OnePlus, but they’re comparably or higher priced (than OnePlus).

A relatively scathing review of the Pixel 4 phones that nevertheless has some great Pixel 4 photos:


Doesn’t seem like many reviews tout the longer Android upgrade cycle from Google as a big plus of the phone…