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Speech-to-text smartphone apps for deaf people and those with hearing loss and tinnitus

We look at 7 popular speech-to-text (STT) apps for smartphones and compare their features.

Android and iPhone apps 

Ava

Ava is for 1-to-1 and group conversations. It has a good range of features. However, when we tested it, accuracy could have been better, even in a quiet environment and speaking close to the phone. 

Features 

  • Adjustable text size and display theme 
  • You can reply by text with the unique option for the phone to voice back conversations with a simulated voice 
  • Tap words to correct them. The app will then ‘learn’ to transcribe these words correctly 
  • You can use the app with an extension microphone.

How to download Ava   

Download Ava from GooglePlay store 

Download Ava from App Store 

Otter 

Otter lets you translate all audio from the microphone into text. 

With the right permissions, you can link your calendar to the app so that it automatically creates transcripts of your meetings through any third-party video and voice calling apps like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.  

The app has good accuracy and speed. It’s free for individuals for conversations up to 30 minutes with a total of 600 minutes each month. There’s a paid-for professional and business package as well. 

Features 

  • Autocorrects any mistakes once a full sentence has been transcribed 
  • Adjustable text font and size 
  • Save recordings in a folder.

How to download Otter 

Download Otter for iOS from App Store 

Download Otter for Android from GooglePlay Store 

Rogervoice 

Rogervoice is a free STT phone calling service. 

As well as having automated STT translations like Skype, you can also make calls using a STT relay or sign language relay assistant. The relay assistant service is currently only available in France (where the app was developed) so we only tested the automated STT translation service. 

It’s free to make calls to people who have the Rogervoice app. If you want to call people who don’t have the app, you need to pay for a subscription. 

You need a high-bandwith connection (Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G or 5G). 

Features 

  • Supports over 80 languages 
  • You can speak to the other person on the call, or write your message, which will be read aloud to the other person by a vocal synthesiser 
  • It can also transcribe voicemails 
  • The app doesn’t support calls to emergency services or premium-rate numbers.

How to download Rogervoice 

Download Rogervoice from Google PlayStore 

Download Rogervoice from App Store 

Skype 

The latest version of Microsoft’s video conferencing app for smartphones enables users to easily toggle the subtitles on and off during audio and video calls. 

Skype-to-Skype calls are free. You have to pay for calls to phone numbers. 

To turn subtitles on during a Skype call, press the + button and select “turn subtitles on.” 

Features 

  • The profile picture of the person who’s speaking appears next to the line of text, so you can keep track of who said what 
  • Set a default language for subtitles 
  • Both video and voice calls supported 
  • Up to 24 participants on calls. 

Read more about Skype subtitles on the Skype website

How to download Skype 

Download Skype for Android from GooglePlay Store 

Download Skype for iOS from App Store


Android-only apps 

Google Live Transcribe 

Google’s Live Transcribe app was launched in 2019 and has led the way in speech-to-text apps on Android phones. It can transcribe conversations near the phone and is ideal for one-to-one conversations and small meetings. 

The app requires Wi-Fi or a mobile network signal. 

Features 

  • The ability to work out conversational context to correctly transcribe words that sound the same but have different meanings – for example, ‘grease’ and ‘Greece’. 
  • 5 text sizes  
  • Choose black text on white background or white text on black background 
  • Option for the person reading the text to type back their part of the conversation 
  • Pause transcriptions while the person is speaking 
  • Save transcriptions in the app. The app automatically deletes them after 3 days. Although you can’t export transcriptions to other apps, you can copy and paste the text 
  • To maintain social distancing, it’s possible to use an extension microphone so that the person speaking can be further away from the phone 
  • Teach the app unusual sounding names and uncommon words 
  • It can flag up non-speech sounds such as laughter and non-human sounds like the doorbell, phone ringing and music 
  • You can set the phone to vibrate each time someone says your name. 

How to download Google Live Transcribe 

Download Live Transcribe from GooglePlay Store

Google Live Caption and Google Pixel 4a phone 

Google Live Caption was launched in 2020. It provides real-time captions for YouTube videos, podcasts and voice recordings. It’s available on some phones that are Android 10 and above. Find out how to use Google Live Caption 

The Google Pixel 4a phone goes a step further and can transcribe mobile network calls, voice and video calls on apps such as WhatsApp and Zoom. The ability to caption phone calls will likely roll out to other devices. 

Speechnotes – Speech To Text Notepad 

Speechnotes – Speech To Text Notepad (previously known as TextHear Personal) is available free for unlimited use on Android phones. 

The free version of the app has adverts, but you can pay for an ad-free version. 

Accuracy and speed is almost as good as the Google Live Transcribe app. 

Features 

  • Adds automatic punctuation and spacing 
  • It can work out words that have the same meaning 
  • Adjustable the text font and size 
  • Choice of black and white display themes 
  • Save conversations or send them to other applications 
  • Can work with an extension microphone plugged into the phone. 

How to download Speechnotes – Speech To Text Notepad 

Download Speechnotes – Speech To Text Notepad from GooglePlay Store


iPhone-only apps 

Hearing Helper 

Hearing Helper (iOS only) is a live STT translation app. It’s free to use and best for 1-to-1 conversations or transcribing speech for notes 

When we tested Hearing Helper, it performed well with overall good accuracy and speed of translations. Unfortunately, you can’t save transcripts. 

Features 

  • Designed for deaf people and people with hearing loss 
  • The app uses the same technology as Apple’s Siri 
  • Tap to quick-edit words 
  • Customisable text size. 

How to download Hearing Helper 

Download Hearing Helper from App Store 

Live Transcribe for iOS 

Suitable for iPhone, iPad and iPad touch.

Although it shares the same name, this app is unrelated to Google’s Live Transcribe for Android phones. You need a subscription to use it, but you can do a free trial for 7 days. 

Features 

  • Works offline 
  • Adjustable text size 
  • 50+ languages supported 
  • You can use the app offline 
  • Reply with text 
  • Save and share transcripts
  • Full screen mode to reduce distractions. 

How to download Live Transcribe for iOS 

The app is available from the App Store and requires iOS 13.0 or later. It’s free and has optional in-app purchases. 

Download Live Transcribe for iOS from App Store 

TextHear 

You can use TextHear for free for 90 seconds. After this, you have to pay for every 30 minutes you use it. 

Accuracy and speed is almost as good as the Google Live Transcribe app. 

Features 

  • Automatic punctuation and spacing 
  • It can work out words that have the same meaning 
  • Adjustable the text font and size 
  • Choice of black and white display themes 
  • You can save conversations or send them to other applications 
  • Can work with an extension microphone plugged into the phone.

Visit the TextHear website 

How to download TextHear 

Download TextHear from App Store


Video conferencing apps 

Our Head of Technology reviewed 8 video conferencing apps to see how useful they are for deaf people and people with hearing loss and tinnitus. 

Read our review of video conferencing apps


Communication support 

Speech-to-text apps are unregulated, which is fine for personal use, but for communication needs in the workplace and in health care settings, we recommend regulated alternatives such as speech-to-text reporters for transcribing in-person or online meetings and appointments, and the Relay UK app for transcribing phone calls via a live relay assistant. 

Find out about the communication services and training we provide to businesses on our Louder than Words site

Learn more about Relay UK


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