Google Translate for Android adds offline translations in 50 languages, vertical text translations for Chinese, Japanese & Korean

Google announced an update today to Google Translate for Android that brings an extremely useful feature for those who are traveling or in need of translations when without an Internet connection. Starting today, the updated Android app will now allow users running devices on Android 2.3 and up to access the service using downloadable offline language packages.

Google noted that there are currently around 50 languages available for offline use and detailed how to download the necessary packages through the app:

You can select [Offline Languages] in the app menu to see all the offline language packages available for download. To enable offline translation between any two languages, you just need to select them in the offline languages menu. Once the packages are downloaded, you’re good to go.

While the languages packages provide everything you need to get quick translations when offline, Google warned that the offline modes are “less comprehensive than their online equivalents” without explaining in detail.

Users of the updated app will also now be able to translate vertical text for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean—using their device’s camera.

The updated Google Translate app for Android is available now through Google Play.

Some Google services reportedly blocked in China

Many reports are coming in that Chinese users are having trouble accessing a number of Google’s web products. There is no word on the exact cause of the service disruptions, but The Wall Street Journal noted Google’s Transpareny Report website shows “a precipitous drop in traffic in China starting more than eight hours ago,” although the site doesn’t list the services as completely inaccessible in the country. Google provided a statement to WSJ confirming the interruptions do not appear to be on its end:

“We’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end,” a Google spokeswoman said in a prepared statement.

The Washington Post reported “Users with special VPN (virtual private network) services,” which many Chinese users take advantage of to access banned sites like Facebook, are still able to access Google’s services.  Read more

Chinese government begins to block Gmail and Android Market in China

Over the past 60 hours, Chinese officials have begun blocking Gmail and the Android Market running on Android devices reports Penn Olson. In the report, Penn Olson says that Gmail can’t send a single email and the Market is incredibly slow, making it utterly useless. The ban is currently taking place across many ISPs and mobile carriers around the country.

As the report mentions, this ban won’t affect that many Android users in China. Many use other email providers and other app markets that have been made available. But at any rate, why would China begin to make this move? Now there’s no confirming this.. but what if it was a possibility:

Come to think of it, it might be related to how Google+ this weekend enabled the Dalai Lama to chat with the Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a virtual equivalent of the planned face-to-face birthday meeting in South Africa that Chinese authorities were so utterly desperate to stop.

..just a little something to think about.