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Otter.ai helps Google Meet stay competitive

Otter.ai provides captioning, live transcription and recording options in Google Meet. The features match those in Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Otter.ai has launched live transcription for video conferencing in Google Meet, offering a standard business service already found in Meet rivals Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

The Otter.ai service, introduced Thursday, uses a Chrome browser extension that lets people create a meeting transcript, view speaker captions and capture an audio recording. The feature is available to all Otter.ai customers, including those using the free version.

The extension creates a transcript in a Live Notes panel that users can move around their computer screens. Once a meeting has concluded, users can add images, review and search through the transcript, and highlight and share portions of it.

Otter.ai said transcripts reduce miscommunication among meeting participants and make video conferencing more accessible for non-native English speakers or people who may be hard of hearing.

Otter.ai introduced live transcription for Zoom meetings in April 2020 and added captions in the fall. Microsoft offers homegrown transcription in Teams.

Irwin Lazar, an analyst at research firm Metrigy, said transcription is a standard feature for video conferencing, so Google had to find a partner or build the component itself.

"I think they're still trying to maintain feature parity with their competitors," Lazar said.

Otter.ai desktop interface
A transcript within Otter.ai's desktop interface.

Google was the last of the major video conferencing platforms to offer a free version of Meet. In September, Google matched Teams and Zoom by raising the number of people visible in a Meet session to 49 but has lagged in meeting attendance reports.

Google has to keep up with competitors to help improve its market position. A June 2020 Nemertes Research study ranked Google Meet fifth in the video conferencing market, trailing Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Zoom and Microsoft's Skype for Business.

Meet isn't a standalone product. Instead, it's a part of the Google Workspace office productivity suite, which competes with Microsoft 365. Teams is available only through a 365 subscription.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering end-user computing topics such as desktop management. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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