Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Two New Apps Related to Hearing

Google has two new Android apps aimed at the deaf and hard of hearing. Live Transcribe is a speech-to-text app that works in real time and Sound Amplifier does what you would expect it to do based on the name—it makes sounds louder. The user with hearing loss puts on a set of headphones and can adjust the app's settings for voice clarity, decreasing the ambient noise, etc. Both apps will be available for free in the Google Play store. There are some limitations though. Sound Amplifier only works on phones with Android 9 Pie and requires an internet connection while Live Transcribe will only be installed on Google’s Pixel 3 smartphones.

Apple offers some help as well: VoiceOver is a free text reader built into iOS. Assistive Touch has vibrations and light flashes to alert users to incoming calls. Of course, FaceTime is used by many members of the deaf community.

 Accessibility advocates say the next step for these smartphone tools is to make them coordinate with features like location so that, when you set your phone to a certain ambient noise level at a particular location, the phone will automatically use those setting when you go there again.

Below is a video showing how Live Transcribe works. Read a review of the apps at The Verge here.

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