Google turns Android smartphones into interpreters

Jan 12, 2011
Google on Wednesday began turning Android-powered smartphones into interpreters with experimental software that lets the handsets translate conversations in real time.

Google on Wednesday began turning Android-powered smartphones into interpreters with experimental software that lets the handsets translate conversations in real time.

An in-the-works version of "Conversation Mode" was made available as the California-based Internet giant updated a text translation feature it added to Android smartphones a year ago.

"In conversation mode, simply press the for your language and start speaking," product manager Awaneesh Verma said in a blog post.

"Google Translate will translate your speech and read the translation out loud. Your conversation partner can then respond in their language, and you'll hear the translation spoken back to you."

Conversation Mode only translates between English and Spanish for now, and factors such as regional dialects, background noise, or fast talking could vex translations, he warned.

"Even with these caveats, we're excited about the future promise of this technology to be able to help people connect across languages," Verma said.

"As Android devices have spread across the globe, we've seen Translate for Android used all over."

The majority of people using Translate are outside the United States, with daily use of the feature taking place in more than 150 countries, according to the Google product manager.

Translate supports 53 languages in text and Android devices handle in 15 languages, Verma said.

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User comments : 12

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TabulaMentis
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2011
This is something that became very popular during the Iraq world, but was way too expensive for mass production until now. There are so many other things a person could think of, like how about a barcode scanner or retina scanner? The list goes on and on. iPocalypse is coming!
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2011
barcode scanners have been around for ever.
scenage
not rated yet Jan 12, 2011
Very cool, I'll have to buy one when I start traveling around Europe again :D
TabulaMentis
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2011
barcode scanners have been around for ever.

Like I said, electronic translators have been around for about ten years and made popular in Iraq. Barcode readers have been around for a while also, but not in smartphones where they would be more convenient. Hopefully someday soon smartphones will have mind readers in them to find out why people like you make such negative remarks!
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2011
Barcode readers have been around for a while also, but not in smartphones where they would be more convenient.


Not in laser form, but many smart phones have apps which use the camera and computer vision to detect and decipher bar codes. This is then used to search for products online, read reviews, and compare prices. Bar codes are 1 dimensional. Their information doesn't change based on where a laser scans along their vertical axis. Camera methods can use 2 dimensional images which may store a lot more information in them. The vacuum I just bought had one such image on the box.
TabulaMentis
1.3 / 5 (4) Jan 12, 2011
@trekgeek1:
I see you are correct. You get a cookie. I am sure someone will figure out how to add a laser to a smartphone, unless it needs a background mirror or something like that making them too bulky.
rushty
not rated yet Jan 13, 2011
get the app called Talk To Me Cloud. Does the same thing but has a buttload of languages to choose from and a very natural sounding voice... I'm surprised google is this far behind!
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2011
@trekgeek1:
I see you are correct. You get a cookie. I am sure someone will figure out how to add a laser to a smartphone, unless it needs a background mirror or something like that making them too bulky.


Your cookie offer intrigues me, what kind?
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2011
Just as long as I don't have to deal with the French using one. Makes my ears bleed, and they should continue to be isolated by their dying language and general jackassery.

OTOH there are a LOT of people from all around the world in my little berg in the summer. Most of whom are extremely nice folks. Be nice to be able to help them with directions or whatever else they are asking for other than a nice smile and a shrug of incomprehension.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2011

TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2011
@trekgeek1:
Your cookie offer intrigues me, what kind?

I can see my statements: [You must have a fetish for cords and plugs] and [I am not entangled to Dan Simmons] in the Physorg.com articles: [Ford unveils its first all-electric car] and [Physicists discover how the outer shell of a hornet can harvest solar power] has got you thinking!
racchole
not rated yet Jan 13, 2011
Kurt Vonnegut predicted BlackBerry's and this exact smartphone device which translates any world language in real time, in the book Galapagos.