Google is testing Conversation Mode in Translate for Android. The tool will let users use their Android 2.1-plus smartphones translate speech on the fly to enable conversations between English and Spanish speakers.
Google Jan. 12
revised its Google Translate for Android application to make it more accessible
for users looking to translate content on the fly using Google's cloud-computing
Translate for Android last year, and the service helps Android phone owners
translate content into 53 different languages via text and 15 languages for
spoken translation on Android handsets. The service is used daily in more than
150 countries outside the United States.
Android now employs
Conversation Mode, a new interface within Google Translate that allows users to
communicate "fluidly with a nearby person in another language."
Mode lets users press the microphone icon and start speaking. Google Translate
will provide a translation of their speech and read it out loud.
with whom the user is conversing can then respond in their language, which will
be spoken back to the conversation-starter in their language.
Conversation Mode will only let users translate content between English and
But even when
it expands to include support for additional languages, it will face a stiff
challenge in cutting through the clutter of regional accents, background noise
and rapid speech to provide clear speech translation. Noting this difficulty,
the service as a gimmick.
providing universal translation to mobile devices on the fly is no mean feat.
Google executives, including CEO Eric Schmidt
and vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra
often cite Google Translate as a shining example of Google's cloud-computing
infrastructure in action.
Translate for Android, available for handsets running Android 2.1 and later
from the Android Market, also boasts better dropdown boxes to help users pick
languages to translate from and into, an improved input box, and cleaner icons