TikTok begins rolling out translation, updated transcription feature

TikTok, a popular video-based social media platform, just became the latest big tech company to launch its own translation feature.

In an effort to improve the app’s accessibility, TikTok developed a transcription feature for video creators on the platform in 2021. According to TikTok’s latest announcement, such captions will now be able to be generated and translated automatically by audience members as well. Currently, the feature is only available for select videos, as the company is still in the early stages of rolling out the translation and updated transcription feature.

“Today, we’re introducing new caption and translation tools in hopes of lowering the language barrier to help bring entertaining global content to more users,” the company wrote in a blog post published on July 21.

TikTok is currently offering translations between nine languages: English, Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Korean, and Indonesian. Users who watch videos in these languages will also be able to access automatically generated captions in these languages, which can then be translated into one of the other languages, in order to make content more accessible to a wider range of users.

Previously, creators who posted videos to TikTok could choose whether or not they wanted automatically generated captions posted to their videos. However, audience members who viewed their videos could not opt in or out of these captions — the updated auto-caption feature allows viewers to choose whether or not they want to opt in to accessing these captions. 

“With auto-generated captions, in addition to creators, viewers now have the option to turn on closed captions for videos, helping make entertaining content more accessible,” the company writes.

By adding the translation feature into the mix, users who speak these nine languages will be able to access much more content than they had been before.

“These easy translation solutions help overcome language barriers and bring people closer together over shared entertainment,” the company’s announcement reads. “Through these efforts, global content will become more accessible regardless of the language(s) you speak and where you are in the world.”

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.


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