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Facebook Messenger tests Google Voice-style transcriptions for sound clips

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Another victory in the war against voicemail

Voicemail is one of the least efficient ways of communicating, and yet a form of it survives in many messaging apps. Facebook added voice clips to Facebook Messenger in 2013, letting you share lengthy monologues using the app should you ever want to. But while no text can match the emotion and nuance that voice can convey, sometimes you just want a quick overview of what a person is saying — and so today, Facebook is beginning to test Google Voice-style transcriptions to your voice clips.

voice clips

Now when you send or receive a voice clip, you'll see a text preview of the message. Both sender and receiver can see the text, unless you decide to turn it off. But most of us won't see the feature any time soon: David Marcus, who runs Messenger, emphasized in a Facebook post that this is a small test. "Our plan is to test this feature at a tiny scale for now and we're looking forward to seeing what you think of it," he wrote. One possible reason for the small size of the test: voice transcription is hard, as anyone who ever struggled to read a Google Voice transcription can attest.

Given the challenges, it's probably a good bet to start small and see how Facebook's speech-recognition technology fares. The test begins rolling out today, the company said.