Google Translate Adds 20 Languages to Real-Time Text Translation

30 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google Translate adds 20 languages to visual translate, speeds up voice translations.

Google Translate is even more useful now. Google has rolled out an update to its popular Translate app, adding support for 20 new languages to its visual translation tool, which can decipher text in photos and video. The new languages are Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino (Tagalog), Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian, as well as limited support for Hindi and Thai. Available for both iOS and Android, Translate doesn’t just shuffle words and phrases from one language to another—it can also literally rewrite the world around you. Google also says the offline capabilities work much faster, which should enable you to quickly find out what that sign means whether or not you have a Internet connection.

Photo or video translation is not available for Chinese, Japanese or Korean, though text-to-text translation and voice-to-voice translation are all supported for these languages. Hold up your phone’s camera to text in a foreign language, and the app will translate the words you put before it, erasing the old and inscribing the new in their place. As TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff explains, Google built this feature around Word Lens, a program that it acquired when it purchased Quest Visual last year. The story behind the story: Google is making the most of its acquisition of Word Lens, which powers the augmented features of the new version of Google Translate. When I showed it a volume of Portuguese poetry, it was able to offer serviceable—if singularly unpoetic—takes on some lines. “The Martian found me on the street,” a Carlos Dumond de Andrade poem, aptly titled “Science Fiction,” promisingly begins, only to continue, “And had fear of my impossibility human.” Not bad, but I’ll stick with Richard Zenith’s more elegant rendering: “A Martian ran into me on the street/ and recoiled at my human impossibility.” While it was impressive to watch the words take shape on my phone’s screen, this clearly isn’t the sort of task that the program was designed to accomplish—and it shouldn’t be faulted for its failure.

To access popular services like Gmail, Google Calendar and the Translate app, users must turn to a Great Firewall-leaping VPN or similar such tool that gets around internet restrictions. Google Translate performed much better in my neighborhood coffee shop, successfully translating signs into Spanish, Filipino, and a variety of other languages, but it struggled to make sense of the specials scribbled on the chalkboard.

Like Google’s image recognition software—which has gotten the company into a bit of trouble in the recent past—Translate uses convolutional neural networks to determine what is and isn’t a letter, and then to guess how those letters fit together into words. But part of that is also the overall user experience, which is why we also invest in things like instant camera translation and multi-language conversation.”

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