Microsoft’s newest Garage app, the company’s brand for more experimental apps, is Group Transcribe, which lets groups of people capture real-time collective meeting transcriptions using their phones. It’s available for free right now on iOS.
“This app uses a multi-device approach to provide real-time, high quality transcription and translation, so users can be more present and productive during in-person meetings and conversations,” Microsoft’s Lainie Huston said in a blog post.
To use the app, one person would first initiate the meeting in their own device. They can then invite the other meeting attendees to join the session via Bluetooth, a scannable QR code or by sharing a link. After the other participants join the session and the meeting begins, each person will see the transcript appear in real-time on their own device.
The app, which is powered by A.I. speech and language technology, is able to transcribe with higher accuracy and speaker attribution based on the volume of the speaker captured by the microphone of each phone being used in the meeting.
By comparing the level of a person’s voice volume, the cloud service attempts to determine which device is closest to the speaker and the language preferences of that speaker. This means speakers are also accurately labeled in the app, which can be a challenge for other transcription apps where only one person is recording.
In addition, if meeting participants want to speak in their own language, the app can provide the translation to others’ devices in their own language.
Microsoft suggests that each person participating in the meeting should use their own phone “within arm’s reach” to have “the highest quality experience.” And in an FAQ, Microsoft says Group Transcribe doesn’t have a limit to how many people can join a transcription, but it notes that the app works best for “in-person meetings [with] up to four people.”
Microsoft doesn’t require you to sign in with any sort of account to use the app you just have to enter your name and your preferred language. The app does send data to the cloud as part of the transcription and speaker identification process, but Microsoft lets you choose whether you want to share meeting recordings with the company that it will use to help improve Microsoft’s speech recognition technologies. And if you’re making a group transcription, everyone in the group needs to have agreed to share recordings before one is shared with Microsoft.