Facebook Wants To Automatically Transcribe Your Voice Messages

Why type when Facebook can do it for you?

A new feature for the Facebook Messenger app will automatically transcribe voice messages sent via the service, according to a Friday announcement from David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging products.

Currently, Facebook Messenger allows people to send voice messages: You simply tap a microphone icon, speak into your phone and transmit the audio clip to your recipient, who then has to actually listen to it in order to hear what you have to say.

But the new update, which Marcus says has been made available on a “tiny scale” to select users, will instead let people tap a button to have Facebook “auto-create” a text transcription of a voice message. In theory, this would allow you to get your messages even if you’re not in a position to slap your headphones on — at a loud concert, say, or in a meeting, to use Marcus’ examples.

A new update to Facebook Messenger will automatically transcribe voice messages for users. Image via Facebook.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment about when most users would receive the update. Marcus wrote that those who currently have access to the new feature are basically considered a “test” audience.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what you think of it before making the experience more widely available,” he wrote.

The transcription service seems to be in the same vein as Google Voice, which automatically writes up your voice mails — albeit with varying degrees of success:

An excerpt of a recent Google Voice transcription that I received from my mother. Neither of us knows a Gary.

Critics took issue with Facebook last year when the company separated its Messenger service from the main Facebook app on smartphones. Still, it’d be hard to call the product a flop: More than 500 million people were using the standalone Messenger app as of November 2014.

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