Facebook to add voice transcription to Messenger

Facebook has announced that it is trying out its voice to text product in Messenger with selected users before rolling it out across the platform.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Facebook is quietly testing a cool new feature which has been added to its Messenger product. In Messenger you can already send video through the browser.

Facebook to add voice transcription to Messenger ZDNet
Facebook / Eileen Brown
You can also add voice clips to your messenger conversation if you use the Messenger app on your mobile device.

Now the company is testing the ability with a few users to have these voice messages converted to text.

David Marcus, VP of Messaging products at Facebook who joined the team in June 2014, announced the news in a post on his Facebook page last week.

He said "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 to add voice transcription to Messenger ZDNet
Facebook/David Marcus

It might be too early for Facebook to be seeing returns on its Wit.ai acquisition.

In January 2015, Wit announced that it was joining Facebook to bring voice commands to text input.

This is a logical next step for Facebook's Messenger product.

Users can already send voice clips using the Messenger app and video clips by using Messenger through a browser.

Voice to text is the next logical step for the product.

Perhaps Facebook is testing how users will use the product, and how well it works in other languages.

Speech recognition results vary greatly across different accents and dialects in the English language, let alone other languages.

Facebook may be implementing this to 'test the waters' before it moves into text to voice products or foreign language translation in future.

It does make a lot sense for Facebook to use Wit.ai for Messenger and to have the ability to translate voice into text.

Facebook will now be able to read users' voice messages and add the information to its dataset for use by advertisers.

Now with knowledge about what we talk about by voice, Facebook will know even more about all of the different ways we interact with our friends online.

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