In 2013, Facebook added voice clips to Facebook Messenger, which lets you share lengthy voice messages with your friends.
Today, Facebook is taking the voice messaging feature one step further with Google Voice-style transcriptions. The new feature, which has been rolled out to a limited number of users, will translate the voice clip to text in the event that the user just wants a quick overview of the voice message.
When you send or receive a voice clip, you will see a text preview of the message unless you decide to turn it off. David Marcus, the head of the Messenger team at Facebook, emphasized in a post that this is only a small test.
“We’re always working on ways to make Messenger more useful. As many of you know, we already offer a feature that enables people to send voice clips to their friends without having to type out the text. Today we are starting to roll out a small test that helps people read the voice clips they receive instead of having to play them out loud. So, for example, if you’re at a concert or in a meeting, and would prefer to read a voice clip from a friend, you now can if you’re part of the small test we’re rolling out. Our plan is to test this feature at a tiny scale for now and we’re looking forward to seeing what you think of it before making the experience more widely available.”
Facebook says that one of the reasons for the small test is that voice transcription is hard. Given the challenges with speech recognition technology, it is probably a good idea that Facebook starts out with a limited test phase.
Facebook Messenger is available as a free download from the App Store. The app requires a device running iOS 7 or later and has been optimized for the iPhone 5, 6, and 6 Plus.