Facebook has begun testing a new Messenger feature that allows users to read transcriptions of the voice messages they send and receive. It’s ideal for keeping up with the conversation when you can’t listen in, but it’s only available to a small few for now.
Facebook first introduced voice clips to its Messenger app back in 2013, giving users a quick and simple way to share lengthy monologues — or just silly messages — with their friends and loved ones. But if you’re in a quiet environment without headphones, you can’t listen to them.
To solve that problem, Facebook is giving Messenger the ability to transcribe the voice clips you send and receive, so that you can read them instead. The transcription happens automatically — unless you turn it off — and appears beneath the voice clip itself.
If you’re a Google Voice user, you’re likely already familiar with this kind of feature. You’ll also be familiar with its shortcomings, which can mean transcribed messages end up reading nothing like the original voice message. We’ll have to wait and see whether Facebook can do better with its own software.
Chances are, however, that you can’t take advantage of the new feature just yet. “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,” explained the company’s David Marcus in a Facebook post.
If the test goes well, Facebook should make voice transcription available to more users over time.