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Pixel 4 Recorder app can transcribe speech in real time without an internet connection

Pixel 4 Recorder app can transcribe speech in real time without an internet connection

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Google is debuting a new voice recorder app on the Pixel 4, and it has some features that very much set it apart from traditional recorder apps. The app, simply called Recorder, also has the ability to transcribe your recordings. That alone is uncommon among voice recorder apps — let alone free ones — and Google pushes that even further, creating those transcriptions on-device and in real time, without sending data to the internet.

For whatever reason, Google hasn’t made a voice recorder app before now. It’s been an odd absence on Pixel phones. And while it could be remedied by downloading any number of apps from the Play Store, having a simple one built into a phone should very much be an expected feature.

The Recorder app really does seem to push beyond what most voice recorders can do, though. Apple’s Voice Memos app, for instance, just records audio and stores it for playback. And while there are some excellent transcription apps out there — like Otter — they usually perform that transcription on a server, which requires uploading your recordings to a third party, then waiting for the transcription to process.

Google is able to do it all on-device, thanks to a new model for processing language, which Google has shrunk down so that it can be stored and run entirely on a phone. The app will even be able to identify certain sounds, like applause or playing music. For now, the app is only available in English, but Google says more languages will come later. It’ll also be limited to the Pixel 4.

The app looks impressive so far. Google showed a live demo onstage, where the app transcribed what the speaker was saying and seemed to pretty much nail the transcript.

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