The Pixel 4’s Recorder app’s live audio transcription feature was one of the few surprises Google served up during last week’s launch event.
Not only did it offer real-time transcription while the recording is taking place, it did so directly on the device without needing to send every word to Google’s cloud servers to deliver the voice to text. That means it works even with WiFi or cellular data turned off.
However, offering this service is one thing, doing it accurately is another, especially given pinpoint accuracy is likely to be of paramount importance for those most likely to make use of it.
Thanks to a test from the Wall Street Journal, which put the app up against a range of accents and the Guinness World Record holder for fastest talker, we’re seeing exactly what the recorder app is made of.
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While the app has some issues with Shakespeare’s English lexicon and a super broad Dublin accent, the app was able to make it through significant portions of spoken text without making errors and while keeping up conversation quite easily.
It did run into problems when attempting to decipher what the speaking speedster had to say, but then again, we couldn’t understand her either.
Overall, the app seems mightily impressive and could be a godsend for reporters who spend longer transcribing interviews than they do writing up the pieces. It could also be ideal for students seeking to record their lectures too.
The WSJ concluded the currently available Otter app for iOS and Android isn’t as fast or as good as the one developed in house by Google. It seems those years of analysing our every utterance to the Google Assistant is paying off.
Whether this will be enough for some users to opt for a Pixel 4 over other leading Android smartphones is unclear, but it’s certainly a nice feature to have.