This article is part of a larger series on Unified Communications.
The Google Meet live translation feature lets attendees turn English meeting captions to German, Spanish, French, and Portuguese—great for global teams and educational institutions. Accessible via a web browser and mobile app, it can be used by customers subscribed to premium plans, including Google Workspace Business Plus, Enterprise Standard and Plus, the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and Google Workspace for Education Plus.
The Google Meet live caption translation feature helps eliminate language proficiency barriers in virtual meetings, which encourages more collaborative and productive discussions. It is specifically beneficial for the following use cases:
- Businesses with international teams and customers: Let your distributed employees and customers consume information in their first language to enhance collaboration and learning.
- Educational institutions with globally distributed learners: Translated live captions make learning easier and more efficient as students get to view lessons and information in the language they most understand. It also encourages more interaction among class attendees.
Learn which unified communication (UC) features are beneficial for distributed teams through our comprehensive guide on the best unified communication tools for remote workers.
Access to the Google Meet Live Translation Feature
Beta users who opted in last 2021—regardless of their Google account type—still have access to it as of this writing. However, Google mentioned that it will be unavailable for them in the next several months. There is no definite date yet when it will be removed from their settings. Moreover, the in-app Google Meet live caption translation feature isn’t accessible to meetings organized by customers subscribed to the following plans and accounts:
- Google Workspace Essentials
- Business Starter
- Business Standard
- Enterprise Essentials
- Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals
- Google Workspace for Education Standard, Frontline, and Nonprofits
- Google Workspace Basic and Business customers
- Google Workspace Individual customer
- Google Personal
Looking for other platforms for your internal and external business communications? Check out our list of the best low-cost and free unified communications services to determine which product best fits your needs.
How to Use Google Meet Live Translation for Captions
For the participants to utilize the feature during the meeting, the host must turn on the feature in ways that depend on the device utilized. Let’s discuss the steps below to discover how to activate it.
Through a Computer
When using a computer, turn on the Google Meet live translation feature by following these steps:
- Open Google Meet on your computer.
- From a meeting, click “More Options,” represented by three dots stacked on top of another.
- Choose “Settings” (represented by the gear icon), and then “Captions” with the closed caption icon.
- Turn on “Captions” by clicking on the toggle, and choose “English” from the language drop-down, as this feature only works for video calls in spoken English.
- Turn on “Translated Captions” through the toggle, and then select your preferred language from the list, including French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Through an Android or iOS Device
When using an Android device, translate the English Google Meet captions to your language of choice by following these steps:
- Tap the screen for the call controls to appear.
- Tap the “More” icon (three dots stacked), and then “Show Captions.” An on-screen prompt will display “Captions are starting.”
- Tap the “More” icon and then the settings (gear) icon.
- Under the “Live Captions” option, tap Translation language and select a language from the list, including French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.
- Once you select a language, a check mark appears next to it. Return to the main screen by tapping “Return” and then “Close.”
Top Live Video Conferencing Caption Translation Alternatives
Looking to host a more inclusive and collaborative virtual meeting but do not have access to Google Meet’s in-app live translation feature? Check out some of the best live video conferencing caption translation solutions to make your goals still possible.
Before the in-app Google Meet live translation of captions was implemented, users have been enabling a similar capability with the use of Google Translate. It also enables them to translate chat messages during the meetings, and it works for free even for those with personal Google accounts.
To utilize Google Meet captions translate, make sure that you are using a Google Chrome browser. Then, follow these steps:
- Turn the captions on
- Right-click anywhere on the page, and then select “Translate to [Language]”
- Captions and the whole page—including chat messages—will then be translated to your preferred language
You can also select a language by:
- Clicking the Google Translate icon in the address bar of your Chrome browser
- Then, select the “More Options” icon and click “Choose another language…”
- Select your preferred language from the drop-down
- Click the “Translate” button
If you are open to utilizing a different video conferencing solution with live caption translations, you can look into Microsoft Teams. It has a free version and paid plans start at $4 per user, per month when billed annually. Attendees of virtual meetings hosted in Microsoft Teams can view live captions in the spoken language, and up to six more. Conference organizers can select these language options from its list of more than 50.
Live captions and translations can be set up by organizers when they are scheduling their events. They should check the “Captions” box, select the correct spoken language, and choose the preferred translation languages from the “Translate to” list.
Attendees can easily view captions and subtitles by clicking the “Captions / Subtitles” option in the video controls. Translations can be set up by selecting the settings or gear icon, clicking “Captions / Subtitles,” and then choosing your preferred language.
You can learn more about how these two providers compare in our Google Meet vs Microsoft Teams guide.
If you aren’t a heavy Google Workspace user and are open to trying out another virtual meeting solution, consider Zoom. It has a free plan and paid plans start at $14.99 per user, per month. It is among the best video conferencing software that works best for businesses with remote or remote-hybrid work setups.
A similar feature that Zoom offers is its human-generated audio translation services. It allows live translators to feed their own audio channels for interpretations. Participants can then select which audio channel they prefer according to their selected language.
However, in 2021, Zoom announced that they will be releasing an expanded live caption and translation feature. They aim to provide automated transcription to 30 languages and live caption translation to 12 languages. Another upcoming solution for Zoom is a third-party app called Lingmo Captions. It will cost $27 per user, per month and can be activated within the Zoom Marketplace.
While an automated and translated captioning feature isn’t available yet, there are providers, like CaptioningStar, that offer real-time human translators. Companies offering services done by professionals guarantee 100% accurate translations. The accuracy of automated captions is much lower as it relies heavily on the quality of the audio.
Learn more about this excellent video conferencing tool through our comprehensive Zoom review.
The Google Meet captions translate feature is a useful tool to remove language barriers in virtual meetings. It encourages collaboration, improved learning, and better engagement in video sessions. However, its downside is its availability to specific Google account holders, as users can obtain similar output for free with the use of Google Translate.
This capability is recommended for heavy Google Workspace users with distributed teams or global customers. Non-Google app users can check out alternatives worth considering, like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.