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How to use Live Caption on Google Pixel phones

Sometimes text is better than audio.
By
October 27, 2022

Closed captions are great; most video and content streaming apps already have them, but Google has a more enticing system-wide solution. The search giant introduced Live Caption at Google I/O 2019, a feature that can create captions of any speech coming out of your device. Today we’ll show you how to use Live Caption on Google Pixel phones.

Read more: Other awesome Pixel-only features you should know about

QUICK ANSWER

Live Caption on Google Pixel phones can be activated by pressing either the Volume Up or Volume Down button, and tapping on the Live Caption button (which looks like a text box) right under the volume slider. This will enable Live Caption, and you'll see text whenever speech audio is playing from your device.

You can also go to Settings > Sound & vibration > Live Caption and toggle on Use Live Caption.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Editor’s note: Steps in this article were put together using a Pixel 4a 5G running Android 13, unless otherwise specified. Some steps may differ depending on your device and software. 

What is Android Live Caption, and how does it work?

As mentioned in the introduction, Android’s Live Caption can recognize speech audio and transcribe it into text in real-time. It works with videos, podcasts, phone calls, video calls, and audio messages. There’s more to it than that, though. This feature is special because it needs no data or Wi-Fi connection. It works completely offline, data is never stored, and it doesn’t go anywhere outside your phone.

Which devices support Live Caption?

Keep in mind this is still mainly a Pixel feature, and it works on any Pixel 2 or newer Pixel phone. The feature is starting to reach other devices outside Google’s line-up, but it’s not a prevalent capability yet. Some newer Samsung and OnePlus devices are known to have it.

Some features are specific to newer devices. For starters, only the Pixel 6 series and newer devices have support for English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Older devices only support the English language. Additionally, only the Pixel 6 series and newer phones support responding through Live Caption using text. More on this later in this post.

How to turn Live Caption on or off

Are you ready to start enjoying Live Caption on Google Pixel phones? Here’s how.

Turn on Live Caption using the volume controls:

  1. Press either the Volume Up or Volume Down hardware button.
  2. Tap on the Live Caption icon below the volume slider. It looks like a text box.

Turn on Live Caption using the Settings app:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go into Sound & vibration.
  3. Select Live Caption.
  4. Toggle on Use Live Caption.

How to use Live Caption

You can now play any audio with speech, and your device will show a box with live captions. You can now tap and hold onto the caption box to drag it up and down the screen and place it in your preferred location. Dragging it all the way down will get rid of the box. You can also expand the box by double-tapping on it.

Managing Live Caption settings

There are some attractive Live Caption options you can mess around with to personalize your experience.

Access the Live Caption settings:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go into Sound & vibration.
  3. Tap on Live Caption.

You’ll see a series of options here. You can Hide profanity, Show sound labels, and decide whether you want to see Live Caption in volume control or not. You can also go into Caption calls to choose when you wish Live Caption to activate during calls.

You can type responses by using Live Caption

Those with Pixel 6 or newer devices have a very neat Live Caption feature. You can actually type responses in during calls. The system will then read out your text responses to the person on the other side of the call. You must firn turn on the feature.

Turn on Type responses during calls:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go into Sound & vibration.
  3. Tap on Live Caption.
  4. Toggle on Type responses during calls.

Note: These specific steps were put together using a Pixel 7 running Android 13.

If this feature is turned on and you’re using Live Caption during a call, you’ll see a keyboard icon. Tap on it and type away. Liva Caption will read out what you typed.


Read more: The best Google products you can find right now

FAQs

Because Live Caption is processed locally and uses the phone’s hardware, it uses more battery than traditional captions.

No. Live Caption uses no data, so you don’t need a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.

Live Caption is not meant to be used with music. The feature might also be unavailable in some media and calling apps.

You can use Live Caption on calls, but Google makes it clear that the feature is not meant for calls with more than one person.