Microsoft Adds Offline Support to iOS Translator App

iPhone and iPad owners can still access Translator's features when their travels take them beyond the reach of a stable Internet connection.

Microsoft Offline Support to iOS Translator App

A new update to the iOS version (2.13) of the Microsoft Translator app allows travelers to access the tech giant's translation services with their iPhones and iPads, even if they stray into areas that are lacking in Internet connectivity or charge high rates for data roaming.

Adding to the app's existing capabilities—image, text and conversation translation—Microsoft has enabled offline support. The company added offline translations to the Android version of the app in February.

"Until now, iPhone users needed an Internet connection if they wanted to translate on their mobile devices," wrote the Microsoft Translator team in a blog post. "Now, by downloading the Microsoft Translator app and the needed offline language packs, iOS users can get near-online-quality translations even when they are not connected to the Internet."

Back when Microsoft announced offline support for the Android app, nine languages were supported. Coinciding with the release of the Translator app for iOS, the company announced that it had added an additional 34 language packs for a total of 43. Included among the new language packs are Danish, Hebrew, Japanese and Thai.

Apple Watch owners can access Microsoft Translator on their smartwatches. Users can speak into their wearables, and the app will provide instant text translations from among 50 languages and sync those translations with their iPhones.

Microsoft claims the downloadable language packs can provide translations with the same level of quality as their cloud-based counterparts. The company credits its deep neural network machine-learning technology, which is also used to power Bing Translator.

The updated app also includes a new extension for Safari, adding its functionality to the mobile browser. After the switching on the extension, Microsoft Translator appears as an option, allowing users to view foreign Websites in their own language.

Translator 2.13 for iOS follows a late-March update to the Microsoft Translator application programming interface (API), which has the distinction of being the world's first end-to-end speech translation API, claimed the software maker. The company envisions that developers and businesses will use the API to enable more natural, conversational translation experiences into their applications. Early users include Swedish mobile operator Tele 2, LionBridge, a Boston-based language services provider and ProDeaf, a developer that specializes in software for the hearing impaired.

On a quest to break language barriers for its worldwide customer base and the sake of improving business and personal productivity in the globalization era, Microsoft has been steadily enhancing its language translation technology portfolio.

Last month, the company announced it had added Arabic language support to Skype Translator, the translation service for Skype video and voice calls, bringing the total of supported languages to eight. Included with the Window Skype client, the feature generates spoken and/or text translations in real-time as users conduct conversations with the software. Arabic language support opens up a whole new market for Skype Translator. According to Microsoft, Arabic is the official language of 22 countries and is spoken by an estimated 200 million people. Other supported languages include English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian and Portuguese.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...