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Zoom says automatic closed captions are on the way – here’s how to request them now

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Zoom has announced that it’s preparing to roll out its automatic closed captions feature to all users of the conferencing app later this year, including those who use the free version.

Announcing the news in a blog post, Zoom Product Marketing Manager Jen Hill said the company was working towards making the feature available to all users “in the fall of 2021” – so we’d expect to see it rolling out from September.

Currently, automatic closed captions are only available to those who pay for a Zoom subscription. The entry-level subscription typically costs $149.90 / £119.90 / AU$209.90 per year.

Making calls more accessible

If you find yourself in need of automatic closed captions now, though, Zoom might just have you covered. Users with conditions such as hearing loss can request access to the feature before the rollout to free users begins by filling out this form.

Currently, Zoom’s live transcriptions only support the English language, and are subject to the usual caveats: users will need to speak as clearly as possible in order for Zoom’s AI to translate their words accurately, and even then, automatic closed captioning in general is imperfect and prone to misinterpretation.

That said, Zoom’s willingness to make automatic closed captioning available to free users is welcome, especially given that many of us who are working from home are still uncertain about when we’ll be able to return to our offices. Plus, it’s nice to see that users with hearing difficulties have the chance to opt in early.

September might sound like a long time to wait, but it could indicate that the company is working on improving its closed captioning AI before rolling it out for wider release. More people being able to access the service will naturally mean the feature is subject to a higher degree of scrutiny, so developing the tech further before then would be a wise move.


25 Feb 2021



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