Google improves Translate for Android's Conversation Mode, making it available in 14 languages. This means speakers of different languages can have their conversations translated over the phone.
Google Translate for Android, the mobile application of
the popular machine translation software, now enables users to translate speech
back and forth between 14 languages, the company said.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) launched Translate for Android last
year to help Android phone owners translate content into different languages
via text and for spoken translation on Android handsets. The tool enables text
translation among 63 languages, voice input in 17 of those
languages, and text-to-speech in 24 of them.
The company earlier this year added Conversation Mode
, which lets users to translate
chats between English and Spanish.
Now Google has made the tool available from
Android 2.2 handsets and later in Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Dutch, French,
German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian and
However, the technology is young and unpolished, which means background
noise and regional accents may affect accuracy. This is true of most speech
recognition technologies, where the software must cut through background
chatter and noise to keep on task.
Yet as with all Google speech recognition technologies,
Conversation Mode learns from examples, so Google
wants people to keep using it.
Users who want to try the feature can speak into their
Android handset's microphone, and the Translate app will translate what they say
and read the translation back to them aloud.
The person to whom the user
directed his or her speech can then reply in their language from their phone. Conversation
Mode will translate what they said and read it back to the original speaker.
The technology is important at a time when Apple's Siri artificially intelligent personal assistant allows users to speak into their phone to have it find certain information and conduct other tasks.
Google said it also added some features to make it easier
to speak and read as a user translates. This enables the user to do other
things beyond simply waiting for translated responses to conversations.
"For example, if you wanted to say, 'Where is
the train?' but Google Translate recognizes your speech as 'Where is
the rain?' you can now correct the text before you translate it,"said Google Product Manager Jeff Chin
. "You can also add unrecognized
words to your personal dictionary."
Also when a user views written translation results, he or
she can tap the magnifying glass icon to view the translated text in full-screen mode to easily show it to someone nearby, or pinch to zoom in for a close-up view.