To this point, Google Translate has been serviceable, if not bland, in its translation of 51 languages.
You went to the site, you typed in some words or a Web page URL or uploaded a document, and selected what language you wanted the content translated into.
Google Translate Nov. 16 got a lot more useful with some new features, including instant translation, read/write accessibility to some languages written in non-Roman characters and scripts, and text to speech.
Instant translation works a little like the Google Suggest technology from the company's core search engine, though instead of suggesting words as you type them, Translate parses them and puts them into the languages you select from the "to" and "from" drop-down menus:
Short queries will include links to dictionary definitions, and mousing over the translations will show the original text for context.
The ability to read and write in any language is fun, too. Click "Show romanization" to read the text written phonetically in English. Google says this works for all non-Roman languages except Hebrew, Arabic and Persian:
Users translating text into English can now hear the translations read back to them by clicking the speaker icon.
See whole Web pages translated, surprisingly quickly -- about 5 seconds for this TechCrunch rendition from English to simplified Chinese:
Check out all of the features in this video overview:
Nothing sexy, but this is incredibly useful to Google's millions of users, which will only keep people coming back.
Neither Microsoft Bing nor Yahoo can hold a candle to this, reinforcing why Google is even bigger abroad than it is in the United States.