How to Use Google's Live Caption On Android

Android 10 brings a feature that captions all audio

Live Caption is a feature on some Android phones that displays captions for nearly any audio regardless of whether the original recording provides built-in captions.

Whether it’s a podcast, a live news report on Facebook, a video in your browser or Instagram app, or an audio message sent to you over text, Live Caption displays the text directly on your screen throughout the whole recording. However, it doesn't caption phone calls, VoIP, or music.

The Live Caption feature works even if your phone's audio is muted, and since it doesn’t require a network connection, everything stays on your phone; nothing is communicated with Google or anyone else.

Live Caption was introduced with Android 10 and currently works only on Pixel 2 and newer devices, as well as some other Android phones.

How to Use Live Caption

Live Caption is installed automatically, but whether or not it's currently usable depends on whether it's enabled. Once you've turned on Live Caption, there are a few modifications you can make to it depending on your needs.

How to Enable Live Caption

There are two ways to activate Live Caption. You can do this before any audio is playing or you can wait until you need captions to turn it on.

The first and far easier method is to press the volume up or down button and then tap the Live Caption button. Depending on how your screen is oriented, it will show up beside (as it does in the screenshot below) or under the volume controls.

Live Caption Android button

If you don't see that button, the other way to turn on Live Caption is through Settings > Accessibility > Live Caption. Tap Live Caption to enable it.

The Live Caption screen will show up automatically to display the video captions, podcast captions, etc.

Video captions on Android with Live Captions enabled

You can quickly disable Live Caption by swiping the caption box off the bottom of the screen. Otherwise, just reverse the steps from above: use the volume menu button or toggle it off in settings.

How to Change Live Caption Settings

There are a few settings you can change to control how Live Caption works.

To adjust how much text you can see in the caption area, just double-tap the box. If Live Caption is hiding something on the screen, press-and-hold the box and drag it up or down out of the way.

Android Live Caption examples

To hide Live Caption from the volume control menu and to toggle other settings like profanity visibility and sound labels, access the Live Caption settings in Settings > Accessibility > Live Caption.

Settings, Accessibility, Live Caption screens on Android

On the Accessibility page is a Caption preferences option where you can change the text size and caption style.

More Information on Live Caption

Live Caption requires extra power to continuously create video captions and transcribe other audio. Having it enabled all the time will drain your phone's battery faster, so be mindful of how often you use it.

English is currently the only supported language, but Google plans to broaden Live Caption to include other languages in the future.

Live Caption doesn't support music, so you can't use it to find song lyrics. There are also some cases where live captions aren't available because the media provider doesn't share the audio with Android.

While Live Caption still works even if your phone's audio is muted, it does require volume from the original audio source. In other words: Live Caption doesn't read lips!

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