Microsoft’s newest Garage app, the company’s brand for more experimental apps, is Group Transcribe, which lets groups of people capture real-time collective meeting transcriptions using their phones. It’s available for free right now on iOS.
“This app uses a multi-device approach to provide real-time, high quality transcription and translation, so users can be more present and productive during in-person meetings and conversations,” Microsoft’s Lainie Huston said in a blog post.
Here’s how it works. Everyone who wants to participate in the group transcription needs to download the Group Transcribe app. Then, one person kicks off a transcription, and they can invite others to join by sharing a five-letter conversation code, a QR code, or by joining the group transcription with nearby sharing over Bluetooth.
Then, the app will begin transcribing the group’s conversation, noting who said what. Group Transcribe can even also auto-translate things people say and show those translations in line as part of the transcription. Transcriptions are saved in the app so you can review or share them after a meeting.
Here’s a screenshot of what the transcriptions and translations look like:
Microsoft suggests that each person participating in the meeting should use their own phone “within arm’s reach” to have “the highest quality experience.” And in an FAQ, Microsoft says Group Transcribe doesn’t have a limit to how many people can join a transcription, but it notes that the app works best for “in-person meetings [with] up to four people.”
Microsoft doesn’t require you to sign in with any sort of account to use the app — you just have to enter your name and your preferred language. The app does send data to the cloud as part of the transcription and speaker identification process, but Microsoft lets you choose whether you want to share meeting recordings with the company that it will use to help improve Microsoft’s speech recognition technologies. And if you’re making a group transcription, everyone in the group needs to have agreed to share recordings before one is shared with Microsoft.
You can read more about the app and its privacy features in Microsoft’s FAQ.