YouTube transcripts and auto-translated subtitles come to your phone

You now have even more ways to watch videos on the platform

Subtitles are one of YouTube’s most useful features. We’re not always in a setting where we can hear audio from a video, and subtitles can save our day in that regard by allowing us to watch a video even if your phone is muted. At Google I/O 2022, the company confirmed YouTube is dubbing captions, adding automatic transcripts and translations for videos you watch on your phone.

Let’s start with the transcripts. These will be generated automatically using Google’s speech recognition models, just like automatic captions, with the added difference that you’ll be able to play them back as a list similar to automatic transcriptions in the Google Recorder app, at least from what we saw in the brief demo shown during Google’s keynote.


Much like automatic subtitles, however, don’t expect it to work brilliantly, especially not when it’s first launched. Although it usually works great in Google Recorder, the videos can be more jumbled up and you can get perfect or very poor quality transcriptions depending on the video.

We also get automatic translated subtitles. It works exactly as you think – if a video has subtitles, you can go to its settings and press “Translate automatically”, select your preferred language and you will have subtitles adapted to your language. This feature has been available on the web version of YouTube for a long time, so its arrival on the mobile version is long overdue.

This can be useful in many scenarios. Although some YouTube creators offer subtitles in their videos in multiple languages, this is certainly not the norm. Our phones are also becoming one of the main ways to access YouTube. The fact that mobile users can now translate subtitles will open doors and help creators reach audiences around the world, no matter what language they speak.

Auto-translated subtitles will initially be available in 16 languages, with Ukrainian joining that list next month, in part so users can check out accurate content about the ongoing Russian invasion.


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