Google Expands Its Google Translate App for Android

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-11-22

Google Expands Its Google Translate App for Android

Google has just made its Google Translate language translation app for Android faster and expanded its coverage to several additional foreign languages, including Malay and Ukranian.

The Translate app, which was introduced in 2010, allows users to speak into an Android device to get a translation into another language, or to use a built-in handwriting feature to get translations. Those capabilities are useful for travelers when they are in places where non-native languages are spoken, wrote Matthew Gaba, the product manager for Google Translate, in a Nov. 20 post on the Google Inside Search Blog.

"Have you ever been in that frustrating situation where you meet someone – yet can’t communicate because you don’t speak each other’s language?" wrote Gaba. "Well, hopefully communication can become a whole lot easier with the launch of the new Google Translate app for Android."

The latest version of Google Translate includes more language support for the built-in handwriting feature, which now gives users the ability to directly write words in Hebrew, Javanese, and Esperanto on their devices so they can be translated on the fly, wrote Gaba. "You can also use our camera translation feature to take a photo of written text with your Android device and highlight which words you’d like to be translated."

So far, Translate supports translations for more than 70 languages, including Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Basque, Belarusian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cebuano, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh and Yiddish, according to Google.

The latest languages included in the new version of the app are Malay and Ukranian.

Users can listen to spoken translations on their Android devices and directly translate speech, handwriting and text in photos using the app, according to Google. Often-used translations can also be saved on a user's device where it can be synced with other devices.

"Let’s say you're taking your first vacation abroad and decide to head to Spain," wrote Gaba. "The only problem? You don't speak Spanish. Now—equipped with just your Android device—you can have a fully translated back-and-forth conversation from Spanish to English with very little work. All you need to do is open up your Translate app and press the microphone icon."

Google Expands Its Google Translate App for Android

"Gesture support" has also been added, giving users the ability to turn their device screen around to be able to switch back and forth between languages, wrote Gaba. "This makes ordering food in that authentic Tapas restaurant a whole lot easier!"

The updated app continues on Google's tradition of adding and updating translation capabilities in its products. The Web-based tools make it easier for Web users to understand the information they find, even if it's in a foreign language.

Earlier in November, Google launched inexpensive language translation services for Android app developers to help them get their apps translated so they can sell them in other countries. The new service is expected to cost about $75 for a small app to about $150 for a large app for each language translation.

In August, Google added a Google+ translation feature to help users quickly get basic translations when other users make posts in languages other than their own on Google+.

In July 2013, Google integrated language translation services into its Chrome for Android Version 28 Web browser. The integration provided automatic detection of foreign languages when users browse Web pages, as well as a follow-up offer to translate those pages into the user's native language.

In May 2013, Google Translate on Android added 16 more languages for its camera input feature, while Google's Web-based Translate service added five more languages. The camera-input feature allows users to take a photo of a sign in a foreign language so it can be translated. The performance of the camera-input feature was also improved at that time. The updates also now let users save their favorite translated phrases to a phrasebook in their Android devices so they can easily call them up again when needed. In the past, users could not easily access those saved translations on the go from their smartphones or tablets. The 16 added languages were Bulgarian, Catalan, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Croatian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Latvian, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian and Swedish.

In March 2013, Google Translate for Android got a big upgrade when Google unveiled a feature that lets traveling users access language-translation services on their mobile devices, even when they don't have access to an Internet connection. Instead of relying on a connection, users can now download individual offline language apps for devices running Android 2.3 or higher. Users can install the free app to their Android device and gain the capabilities to translate text and speech, as well as listen to the translations being spoken aloud. Users can input the text they want to translate using their voice, handwriting or the device's camera.

Users can also save their favorite translations for easy offline access later. Plus, they can view dictionary results for single words or phrases as needed. The offline apps are less comprehensive than their online equivalents, but they are perfect for translating in a pinch when users are traveling abroad with poor reception or without mobile data access.

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