Google is offering one-click automatic translation for Gmail in 41 languages, allowing Gmail users to read e-mails in languages such as Turkish, Thai and Estonian. Google has introduced several new features in 2009 to Google Apps and Gmail designed to make those services more robust for the enterprise, in addition to increasing their consumer user base.
announced on May 19 that it would provide one-click automatic message
translation for Gmail through a new application introduced in Gmail Labs. Some
41 languages are on offer, including Turkish, Thai and Estonian.
The feature can be activated by clicking on the Settings tab within Gmail,
followed by the Labs tab. Once in Google Labs, enable Message Translation.
Those using Premier and Education Editions of Google Apps will need to enable
Gmail Labs from within the admin control panel before proceeding.
"If your entire company uses Gmail, e-mail communications between
people in your company can take place in the language that's most comfortable
for them," Jeff Chin, product manager for Google Translate,
wrote in a May
19 corporate blog post. "Each person can write messages in their native
language and the recipients can translate the messages into their respective
Chin warned, however, that machine translation still contains flaws.
"It can be quite useful in providing the quick gist of a message,
especially if you receive a lot of e-mails that aren't in your native
tongue," he wrote. "If the translation is awkward or not quite right,
you can quickly return to the original message by clicking 'View original
Cloud computing, apparently, provided the power to build a translation
platform that could be scaled to 40 languages and millions of users. The
translation system itself, according to Google, consists of thousands of
computers processing billions of words' worth of monolingual and bilingual text
to "build statistical language and translation models."
In March, Google
made Gmail Labs available in 49 languages.
Originally launched in June
2008, Gmail Labs allows users to activate some niche features, including the
ability to view YouTube previews in an e-mail, as well as some quirky ones, including
Mail Goggles, which prevents an e-mail from being sent until the sender has
completed a series of math questions.
In January 2009, Google positioned Gmail more
competitively against Microsoft, Yahoo Zimbra and other services by providing offline
access for Gmail and Google Calendar,
a feature already included in those
other companies' e-mail offerings.