Google’s AI-powered voice recorder app introduced at Google’s October hardware event was one of the company’s more impressive demos. The new app taps into advances in AI, speech processing and speech recognition in order to automatically transcribe a voice recording with few mistakes, in real time as the person is speaking. Unfortunately, Google’s Recorder app was locked to Pixel 4 devices at launch. That has now changed.
As first spotted by Android Police, the Recorder app is available to Android users with older Pixel devices, including Pixel 2, Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. The updated support was added to the app today, Sensor Tower also confirmed. But the lack of publicity around the launch has led it to see fewer than 1,000 downloads so far.
Google had previously announced its intention to make the app more widely available. In a recent Reddit thread, a company representative said the app would become available to more Pixel users in the future via a software update. They didn’t say when that update would arrive, though.
While there are many voice recorder apps on today’s market, there are few that offer real-time transcriptions. And of those that do — like Otter.ai, for example — the resulting text is often half-garbled. While these services can still be useful as a way to quickly find a section of a recording to then play back and manually transcribe, the lack of accuracy can limit adoption.
Google’s Recorder app was demonstrated at Google’s fall event as capable of taking a far more accurate transcription. Of course, the app was being not put to real-world use at the time — with different types of voices, accents and background noise, it may not be as accurate. In addition, the app lacks the ability to identify and label different speakers, which could make it more difficult to use in situations like meetings or interviews.
That being said, the app held up well in initial tests in a review by The Wall St. Journal’s Joanna Stern, though it stumbled with accents. Other reviewers found the app to be fairly powerful, too, if a little basic in its overall design. TechCrunch’s review said the transcription was pretty good, but noted also it lacked some features other apps have.
However, Recorder does have an advantage over some of its rivals: it doesn’t require an internet connection to work. Instead, all the recording and transcription capabilities take place directly on the device. That means you could even use the app while in airplane mode.
In addition, a built-in advanced search feature lets you search for sounds, words and phrases and then see a visual depiction of where the search term was spoken in the playback bar so you can go to the recording you need.
Google has put its real-time speech transcription technology to work in a number of ways, besides Recorder. It also introduced live caption technology for Android devices, for example, which brings transcriptions to things like video or audio saved on your device, or video playback outside of YouTube.
The Recorder app is a free download on Google Play.
We’ve reached out to Google for any update on its plans to make Recorder more broadly available across Android. The company hasn’t responded to our questions at this time.