Google’s Live Captions has been providing real-time captioning for phones for some time but now the feature is coming to desktop Chrome. And, as is often the case with Chrome features, that means it’s possible to access the feature ahead of the stable release. That’s based on a recently spotted flag setting pertaining to the feature.
There will be bugs, of course
Now, it’s worth noting that experimental features aren’t going to work for everybody. Or at least they won’t work well for everybody. The feature here — specifically getting captions for media played in Chrome — is still in testing. Hence why it’s experimental. So there will almost certainly be bugs for some and potentially browser-breaking bugs for a small minority of users.
In fact, the feature on stable Chrome is reportedly incredibly buggy for some as of this writing. For instance, it needs to be turned off and then on again if the media playback it is captioning gets paused. And it won’t work with YouTube on the Stable Channel right now either.
Chrome OS suffers more bugs than other platforms. It won’t work in Android apps at all, for instance, and the setting has to be searched for in the Settings app in order to toggle it on and off. On other platforms, the setting adds a quick toggle to the media playback menu found at the right-hand side of the URL Omnibox. But, for those who want access now, Google has made that a straightforward process.
Turn on and access Live Captions in Google Chrome on desktops
As noted above, users will need to make sure they’re accessing this setting from a desktop platform. That does include laptops, of course. But a Chromebook — or any Chrome OS variant — or a PC, Mac, or Linux computer will be required. In desktop Chrome, from there, users will need to enter the “Chrome://flags” URL and search for “Live Caption.”
After using the dropdown menu to select the “Enabled” instead of the “Default” option, Chrome will need to restart. In some cases, it will need to restart more than once.
For those who would rather wait for a stable release, once ready, Live Captions for desktop Chrome shouldn’t need any flag settings at all. Both the appearance of this flag and the less-buggy nature of the Canary version are promising. Namely, both seem to hint that won’t take too long to be finalized. Or at least not any longer than any other feature for Chrome that’s migrated across platforms recently.