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Google is launching two new apps for Android phones that will help deaf people

February 5, 2019

Google has launched two new features for Android phones aimed at helping people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

First up: Live Transcribe is an app that uses a smartphone’s microphone to transcribe speech in real time, letting people with hearing loss read a text version of what was said. It works in 70 different languages. If you want to try it, you’ll need to sign up via the Google Play Store to be notified when it launches to the public.

Secondly: The Sound Amplifier app is designed to improve the clarity of speech around you by filtering out ambient and unwanted noise. Cleverly, it won’t increase the volume of sounds that are already loud. It basically turns your smartphone (and headphones) into a hearing aid. It was first announced in May at Google’s annual developer conference but is available now. It works without an internet connection, unlike Live Transcribe.

Privacy promise: Google says that it is not saving transcripts of conversations, and it isn’t storing any of the audio or text data on its servers.

Language services: The announcement is another indication of Google’s ambitions within the field of natural-language processing and machine learning. It launched a live translation add-on to Google Assistant called Interpreter Mode last month, for example.

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