Each of us has someone in our lives who insists on sending us voice notes on WhatsApp. But now, instead of listening to these [sometimes annoying, almost always lengthy] voice notes, there is an Israeli bot called "Amnon" that takes the voice notes you receive or send and turns them into a text message.
Not just a nuisance but a real problem
Shilo Magen describes himself as someone who is always in meetings. The problem with that is that his beloved wife sends him voice notes all the time, which means that during these meetings he can't communicate with her. So, he set out to fix his problem by making a small and modest bot that transcribed the voice notes. But then he discovered that other people have a problem with voice notes, but with harsher consequences.
"I realized that the hard of hearing have problems with voice notes. For me, it’s just a nuisance, but for them, it is a real challenge. So, I set out to develop it as a product, with the first goal being to help the hard of hearing," says Magen. Magen's twist is that "Amnon" is not just a bot or an app, but a contact that you can add so you don’t have to leave the app. All you have to do is forward ‘Amnon’ the voice notes and then you receive the transcribed message back from him a few seconds later. Building the bot took a lot of integration with many factors and was challenging, but also a lot of fun," says Magen. The bot uses the WhatsApp API, which is responsible for receiving the message on AWS to process the file, and Google, which receives the message and actually transcribes it.
We checked out Amnon for ourselves. Thought misses a few words here and there, he doesn't interrupt any sentences, and only supports short-minute messages - the bot did a pretty good job. To start using the transcript bot for WhatsApp, you can click here and add it to your contacts.
What about privacy?
Despite the useful development, keep in mind that these are still your private voice notes and contacts - but Magen explained that privacy is also important to him: "I close the Amnon chat before I sell information and or show advertisements. Meaning, I don't keep the recordings, only the transcripts, and that too is only for statistics and caching purposes."
Though it is a great development, between API calls, cloud processing, etc., you probably spend quite a bit of money on Amnon's operation – we assume you won’t run it forever out of your own pocket
Magen: "Amnon's operating cost will be very expensive, so we are trying to understand the costs to build a suitable pricing model that isn't too expensive."
Recall that in the meantime, Telegram is offering transcriptions of voicemails to paid Telegram subscribers – but Israeli developers have also toyed with the idea oftranscribing voice notes on WhatsApp in the past. Notable developments include TalkFaster and ‘Write, Dude’. However, unlike Amnon, these two developments worked as an external app that forced you to leave WhatsApp.