Microsoft Releases Translator App for Amazon Fire Tablet

Fire tablet users can now download Microsoft's translation app in the Amazon Underground app store.

Microsoft Translator App on Amazon Fire

Microsoft Translator is available on Amazon Fire, the online retailer's line of Android-based tablets. Users can download the software onto their devices using the dedicated Amazon Underground app store.

It's not the first time Microsoft is providing translation services to the Amazon device ecosystem. "Microsoft Translator has been available for translating passages of Kindle eBooks since 2012. Now, with the new Microsoft Translator app, you can also use your Amazon Fire to translate the world around you," stated the software giant in a June 2 announcement. A more tablet-friendly version of the app was also released to the Google Play store for owners of the various Android-powered computing slates on the market.

Like its counterparts on iOS and Android, the Microsoft Translator app on Amazon Fire tablets uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to translate signs, menus and other written items travelers may encounter using a device's camera. The feature also works with images collected from social media or sent in an email or text.

A total of 50 languages are supported. Users can type or speak phrases they wish to have translated. Real-time conversation translation is supported for a handful of languages (English, Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian and Spanish).

The app also supports downloadable language packs, which enable users to access the bulk of the company's translation services without an Internet connection. Typically, the app connects to Microsoft's cloud to generate language translations, which may incur expensive data charges if users travel abroad.

Language packs for the app's offline translation engine allow users to avoid international roaming charges or wander into areas with limited connectivity options. In February, Microsoft originally released nine language packs. Over the past few months, that number has grown to more than 40 languages.

Microsoft isn't the only one making it easier for jetsetters to venture off the beaten path.

Google Translates Any Android App

Last month, Google announced that it had enabled an offline mode on the iOS version of its Google Translate app, a feature that had already been available in the Android app. Google said it compressed its language packs by 90 percent to about 25MB apiece, allowing users to reclaim valuable storage space on their phones. With the recent addition of the Filipino language pack, Google Translate supports a total of 52 offline language packs.

In a more ambitious move, Google added a Tap to Translate feature to Android ("Jellybean" or version 4.2), essentially bringing Google's translation services to any app.

Instead of copy/pasting content into a separate translation app or Website, when users highlight and copy content, the Google Translate icon will pop up. Tapping it will automatically generate a card with the translated text. Tap to Translate works with all of 103 languages supported by Google Translate.

In April, the search giant celebrated a big milestone: 10 years of Google Translate. Since its debut, the technology has gathered half a billion users, said Google.

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...