Google Translate now provides instant visual translations in 27 languages on …

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google Translate Gets 20 Languages for Visual Translations, Speeds Up Voice Translations.

One of the most intense experiences you’ll ever have is visiting a country that speaks a language different than yours. Google today announced that within the next few days its Google Translate app for iOS and Android will be able to give users immediate visual translations of text in 27 languages.

Google gave its already-stellar language translation app a big update on Wednesday — it now supports 20 more languages, and real-time voice translations are much faster and smoother than they have ever been before.In the olden days, when you were on a subway in another country and couldn’t read the signs due to not speaking the language, you’d approach a stranger and use gesturing to figure out where to go. Instant visual translation is now available for Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian, according to a blog post today from Google Translate product lead Barak Turovsky. In an update released today, Google is adding dozens of new languages to some of the Translate app’s most powerful features, and smoothing out the app to make it friendlier to slow connections.

Google created a video to show its new language translation engine in action, where people in different countries hold up signs with words from “La Bamba,” the Mexican folk song popularised by Ritchie Valens. That kind of “cultural exchange” may go extinct, however, thanks to Google’s giving us our own Babel fish, the universal translator dreamt up in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Its most handy, and impressive, tool is the six-month-old instant translation feature, using the goodies from the acquired Word Lens, that lets you point your camera at something written in another language, say a sign, and it’ll translate into your language with ridiculous accuracy in almost real-time. In particular, the update makes Translate’s visual translation features significantly more powerful, letting mobile users translate 37 languages via photo, 32 via voice, and 27 through real-time video.

As the people hold up their cards, you can see someone with a smartphone standing in front of the camera, instantly translating the Spanish words into English. Today’s changes are updates to two features added to translate back in January: a real-time video translation feature called Word Lens and a conversation feature that translates bilingual speech in real-time. This new upgrade to Google Translate is also particularly important because its real-time translation function for both voice and visual inputs has been improved to work even over slower or more unreliable mobile networks. As for the new speedy performance, Google knows that many of the countries where you would need Translate don’t have the most reliable wireless networks.

So no matter where you are or which country you’re visiting, you’ll always have a quick, mostly-reliable language translator, which now works in 27 different languages. Google’s secret for the speed, and upgrade in speed for voice translations (to better serve slower 3G networks in ), is its use of convolutional neural networks. It’s designed to work entirely offline, without making any queries to Google’s servers — convenient for those backpacking trips around Europe or Asia.

The app automatically translates the printed text if it the device has the required language pack, otherwise it will prompted you to download the pack, which is about 2MB in size for each supported language. Google has trained its artificial neural network — a key technology for deep learning — on images showing letters as well as on fake images marred by imperfections, to simulate real-life scenes.

The app can also translate text into Hindi and Thai but cannot translate back, since the script makes it difficult for the program to resolve individual letters. The new languages aren’t built directly into the app, but they’re available as 2-megabyte modules, which can be downloaded by accessing the languages within the app.

Google has made a Translate Community last year, which is a community of multilingual users from all around the world, that has been working to improve the quality of translations, whether they are in text form or in voice form. I spoke to Julie Cattiau, Product Manager, Google Translate, yesterday about the Translate project as a whole, and asked specifically about Translate as an aid, rather than a replacement: JC: Translate is not a replacement for a language learning course; it’s not going to teach you a language from scratch or all of the intricacies involved in learning a language. The update will also make speech-to-speech translation easier to use on a slow connection, after Googlers noticed more and more users relying on the feature in areas with bad connections.

So far, people are using the thing mostly to translate street signs, ingredient lists, menus, instruction manuals, and dials on a washing machines, according to Google. Every day, Translate processes 100 billion words across the globe, and 95 percent of those translations take place outside the US, so the recalibration toward slower connections could have real implications in countries with less developed cell infrastructure. 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. JC: Personally, I really enjoy reading and hearing user stories around how we were able to improve their lives by enabling them to connect with other people — whether it’s someone successfully ordering off of a foreign menu, a couple getting married who didn’t speak each other’s languages, or a life being saved because an emergency responder could communicate with someone. Before Google, we used to have to ask people to fill in gaps in our knowledge, stopping people on the street for directions or asking friends who that guy in that one movie was.

Today’s updates knock down a few more language barriers, helping you communicate better and get the information you need,” wrote Google Translate chief Barak Turovsky, chief of Google Translate in a post on the company’s blog. So, it’s easy to see why they’d be interested in making the app more user-friendly and relevant for people living in the developing world, where reliable Internet access can be hard to come by.

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