Is Google Speech API free?

The Google Speech API allows developers to convert audio to text by applying powerful neural network models in an easy-to-use API. Google offers speech recognition capabilities for over 120 languages and variants. This enables developers to quickly add speech-to-text capabilities to their applications.

This article will explore the question of whether the Google Speech API is available for free usage or not. We’ll cover the pricing model, usage limits, and alternatives to determine if and how developers can utilize speech recognition in a free manner.

Overview of Google Speech API

The Google Speech API allows you to convert audio to text by applying powerful neural network models in an easy-to-use API. It enables developers to integrate speech recognition capabilities into their applications. According to Google Cloud, it can transcribe audio with “phone call quality” speech into text in over 120 languages.

The Google Speech API works by sending audio data to Google’s servers, which will transcribe it into text and send the text back to you. It can process real-time audio by streaming audio data, or you can send a complete audio file. Some key capabilities include:

  • Accuracy – Google uses advanced machine learning models to deliver high transcription accuracy.
  • Language Support – Transcribes audio in over 120 languages.
  • Contextual Recognition – Uses context like speaker ID to improve recognition over time.
  • Automatic Punctuation – Automatically punctuates transcribed text.

Overall, the Google Speech API provides a simple way to add speech recognition to applications without needing to build the deep learning models yourself. It handles the complexity behind the scenes while providing an easy-to-use REST API.

Features and Capabilities

The Google Speech API enables real-time speech recognition in over 120 languages and variants. Some of the main features and capabilities include:

Speech-to-Text – The API can transcribe audio to text in real-time as the audio is being streamed. It uses Google’s neural network models to convert speech into text quickly and accurately 1.

Text-to-Speech – It can also synthesize natural sounding speech from text in over 200 voices across 40+ languages and variants. Advanced WaveNet voices provide the highest quality and most human-like results 2.

120+ Languages – The Speech API supports a wide range of languages including English, Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Korean and more. It can understand different accents, dialects and regional variants.

Real-Time Processing – It enables real-time transcription and synthesis with low latency for speech recognition during phone calls, video conferences, streaming audio and more.

Custom Models – Users can train customSpeech-to-Text models on domain-specific data to improve accuracy for industry-specific vocabulary.

Integration – The API can be easily integrated into applications via client libraries for Python, Java, Node.js, Go, PHP, Ruby, C#/.NET. It uses a REST API and Google Cloud client libraries.

Requirements and Prerequisites

To use the Google Speech API, you first need to have a Google Cloud account and create a new project in the Google Cloud Console. This will generate API keys that are required to authenticate your requests to the Speech API.

According to the Google Cloud documentation, there are no upfront costs associated with creating a Google Cloud account and using the Speech API. You only pay for the resources you use based on usage.

The Speech API itself has some technical requirements in terms of audio formats and encoding. Audio files must be encoded as linear 16-bit PCM (.wav) files. The sampling rate must be 16000 Hz for non-streaming requests, and 8000-48000 Hz for streaming requests. Audio content should not exceed 1 minute for synchronous recognition requests. For longer audio, asynchronous recognition must be used by sending the audio as a storage object URI.

Developers need to include the generated API key when making requests to the Speech API. Authentication is required for all requests. The API also has limits and quotas that determine the usage capacity available to a project.

So in summary, the prerequisites are having a Google Cloud account, enabling the Speech API for your project to get API keys, encoding audio correctly, and properly authenticating API requests.[1]

Pricing and Plans

The Google Speech API offers both free and paid options. There is a free tier that allows up to 60 minutes of speech-to-text conversion per month. This free tier is intended for low-volume usage and testing. Beyond that, paid plans are available with volume-based pricing starting at $0.006 per 15 seconds of audio.

For the paid Speech API, Google offers two pricing models:

  • Pay-as-you-go – Pay per use based on the duration of audio processed, with volume discounts
  • Committed use discounts – Pre-purchase Speech API capacity for lower rates with one year or three year commitments

In addition to pay-as-you-go and committed use pricing, Google also offers customized enterprise pricing plans for large organizations with substantial speech processing needs. Overall, the Google Speech API pricing provides options both for smaller users with occasional transcription needs, as well as large enterprises processing many hours of audio. The free tier allows some basic access, while the paid tiers are required for any substantial ongoing speech recognition.

Limits and Quotas

The Google Speech API does have usage limits and quotas in place. According to Stack Overflow [1], the Speech API limits requests to about 1 minute of audio per request and 50 requests per day. The audio provided must be under 60 seconds. There are also limits to the number of channels (1 for asynchronous requests, 2 for synchronous requests) and sample rates that can be used.

An issue thread on GitHub [2] confirms the 1 minute limit per request for the Speech API. It notes that this is different than the Cloud Speech API, which does not have a hard cut-off but does process about 1 minute of audio per request.

The limits appear to be enforced on a per-key basis. Some users on Mozilla Discourse [3] reported hitting usage limits after running just 50 requests in a short period of time with the same API key.

So in summary – 1 minute audio per request, 50 requests per day, and throttling on a per-API key basis are the primary limits and quotas enforced by the Google Speech API.

Use Cases

Google’s Speech API enables real-time speech recognition for various applications. Some examples of real-world use cases include:

Transcribing audio or video files – The Speech API can automatically generate transcripts for audio or video content. This is useful for search indexing, creating subtitles, generating automated captions, and more.

Dictation and voice commands – Applications can use the API to enable speech-to-text dictation for note-taking, data entry, writing assistance, or implementing voice commands.

Captioning phone calls – The API enables real-time transcription of phone calls and conversations for applications like call centers, customer support lines, interviews, and more.

Voice search – Integrating the Speech API allows applications to implement voice search capabilities, like searching databases, applications, websites or other content via spoken natural language queries.

Smart assistants and chatbots – Natural language processing capabilities enable developers to build smarter voice assistants and bots that understand spoken commands and queries.

Language learning – Speech recognition can be leveraged in language learning apps for pronunciation evaluation, grammar correction, and more interactive learning experiences.


There are several alternate speech APIs that offer similar functionality to the Google Speech API. Some of the top competitors include:

Amazon Transcribe is a speech-to-text service that supports multiple languages. It offers pay-as-you-go pricing starting at $0.0004 per second of audio processed (Top 10 Google Cloud Speech-to-Text Alternatives & Competitors).

Microsoft Bing Speech API also provides speech recognition capabilities. It has a free tier for up to 5 hours of audio per month and paid tiers starting at $1 per 1,000 minutes of audio (Top 10 Speech Recognition API Alternatives & Competitors – G2).

Assembly AI offers an API for transcribing audio to text that is free for up to 60 minutes per month. After that, plans start at $0.10 per minute (Web Speech API Alternatives for Voice User Interfaces).

In comparison, the Google Speech API is completely free with no limits on usage. This makes it one of the most cost-effective options for speech recognition capabilities.

Pros and Cons of Google Speech API

The Google Speech API offers some notable benefits, but also has some drawbacks to consider:


  • Accuracy – According to a 2017 study, the Google Speech API was found to have high accuracy for speech recognition, even with accents, background noise, and imperfect audio quality (
  • Easy integration – The API allows third party developers to easily integrate speech recognition into their applications, reducing development time (
  • Scalability – The cloud-based API can handle heavy workloads and scale as needed.
  • Continuous improvements – Google frequently updates and enhances the API with new features and capabilities.


  • Cost – The API is not free and charges per use, which can add up for high volumes.
  • Dependence on internet connection – The API requires an internet connection to function.
  • Privacy concerns – Users may not want sensitive audio data sent to Google servers.
  • Potential service disruptions – Relying on an external cloud API means risk of downtime if service is disrupted.


In summary, Google Speech API provides powerful speech recognition capabilities through an API that can be easily integrated into applications. It supports over 120 languages and variants and can transcribe audio in real-time or from a file.

Some key points about Google Speech API pricing:

  • It offers 60 minutes of free speech-to-text conversions per month.
  • After 60 minutes, you are charged $0.006 USD for 15 seconds of audio.
  • There is a monthly free tier with enough for most non-commercial uses.
  • Paid plans are available for high-volume commercial usage.

So in conclusion, Google Speech API is free to use up to 60 minutes per month, making it free for most small scale and non-commercial applications. But for commercial systems that require high volumes of speech transcription, paid plans are available.

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