Pixel 4’s Recorder app leaks, revealing automatic transcription capabilities

Pixel 4’s Recorder app leaks, revealing automatic transcription capabilities

We already seem to know a lot about Google’s upcoming Pixel 4, including one of its new apps: “Recorder,” a new voice recorder app. In a recent 9to5Google hands-on, the app seemed pretty basic — hit a button to record, then share that audio file with other apps. Surprisingly, though, Google seems to have updated Recorder before it’s even been released, with one particularly handy feature: automatic audio transcription.

XDA Developers tested the new transcription feature, and it seems like it worked decently enough. The transcription of XDA Developers’ test recording messed up the name of the speaker (Mishaal Rahman) and added a few too many periods, but it’s still pretty readable:

Image: XDA Developers

Typically, if you wanted to have an app automatically transcribe recordings, you’d need to pay for a service like Otter.ai. Google’s Recorder could be a nice alternative, especially if Google offers it for free.

In Recorder, it also appears you’ll be able to search for a word within transcriptions and take you to where that word showed up in the recording. This could be an incredibly useful way to save yourself the trouble of painstakingly scrubbing through a recording to find that exact quote you’re looking for:

Image: XDA Developers

9to5Google also tested the updated app, and was able to find what appear to be Google’s official Play Store images of Recorder as corroboration. They also show off another useful search feature: apparently, the app can automatically add time codes to sections of a recording, which could help you more easily find certain parts of your transcript:

Image: 9to5Google

Even cooler? By digging through the app’s code, XDA Developers found that you might be able to search for other types of “audio events,” including “applause,” “bird,” “cat,” “didgeridoo,” “dog,” “knock,” “laughter,” “music,” “rooster,” “speech,” “phone,” and “whistling.”

Interestingly, all of this transcription work is apparently being done on-device, as stated in a welcome screen XDA Developers shared, so Google probably isn’t listening in to your recordings by storing them on its servers:

Image: XDA Developers

Somewhat disappointingly, according to XDA Developers’ analysis of the app’s code, Recorder can only transcribe English for now, but perhaps other languages might be supported in the future.

Recently, it seems Google has been investing a lot into live transcription, having shown off Live Transcribe, which automatically transcribes speech in near-real time, Live Caption, which captions spoken audio from apps on your phone, and the company’s also automatically transcribing podcasts to better surface them in search results.

Hopefully Google shares more about Recorder at its October 15th event.

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