With two billion users worldwide, WhatsApp is comfortably the most popular chat app on the planet. However, that doesn’t mean it necessarily does everything better than the competition. Let’s be honest, more often than not, it simply means that all of your friends are on it.

But with more features being added all of the time, we’d love the team at WhatsApp to look to incorporate the latest addition to Google Duo – the Californian search firm’s video call app. From today, Google Duo users will be able to activate captions for voice and video messages sent within the application, which is available on Android and iOS.

These subtitles, which are transcribed by Google’s clever AI systems, means you’ll be able to play a video message from a friend even if you’re in a noisy place without your headphones. The captions appear like the subtitles on YouTube.

Even if you do have your headphones to hand, the addition of captions means you’ll be able to take a message from a friend without pausing your music to listen – you can just read what they need to tell you. Of course, there are huge implications for users who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. This makes Google Duo much more accessible than some of its rivals – especially as the app is so focused on video and audio content, not written text messages.

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According to Android Police, the latest feature in Google Duo is powered by the same smarts that allow Google Pixel smartphones to add captions in real-time to any media playing on the handset. That’s another incredibly useful feature that can also be a vital accessibility tool.

But unlike the real-time captions on Pixel devices, the technology now baked into Google Duo will work on any smartphone, including iPhones.

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Unfortunately, Google hasn’t added the ability to transcribe captions in real-time during a video call. However, that seems like the next logical step for this technology, so fingers crossed it arrives sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, for those who like to send voice notes or send short video clips on WhatsApp… we’ll all have to rummage for our headphones to listen in. And those who are hard-of-hearing risk missing out.

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