Speech recognition feature found buried in Facebook and Messenger apps

App investigator Jane Manchun Wong has found a new dictation capability in the code of the Android Facebook and Messenger apps, which may be a speech recognition feature called “Aloha,” The Verge reports.

In a video posted by Wong to Twitter, the feature appears to transcribe speech into text while an indicator bar expands and contracts with each utterance.

Facebook has done at least some development work on a smart speaker, reportedly codenamed “Aloha” or “Portal,” but put its plans on hold after the reputational damage of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Now the feature, which seems to transcribe text in a basic user interface, could be an early step toward reviving that project.

The code also refers to connections with external devices through WiFi or Bluetooth, further supporting the theory that new hardware is in the works.

The global market for voice and speech recognition is expected to reach $6.9 billion by 2025 as the technology is deployed for digital banking and other services.

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