Translation Stories July 6, 2016

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Building on a new text selection and search feature introduced last month, an update to Now on Tap adds the ability to translate foreign languages found in any app. On Tap can now also read QR and bar codes, as well as suggest interesting articles and videos as part of a new Discover feature.

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Translation Stories August 20, 2015

Interactive watch faces aren’t the only goodie coming in Android Wear version 1.3, apparently. Google Translate is finally getting its own smartwatch app.

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Translation Stories August 7, 2015

Microsoft Translator is a beautified Google Translate with Android Wear support

Real world, on-the-fly language translation has always been a little gimmicky if only because it still doesn’t quite hit the mark in terms of accuracy. Human spoken languages are a lot different from computer code in that words can have many meanings based on the context of the other words surrounding them. But that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from releasing its own translation app for Android called Microsoft Translator.

As you can see from the images above, the app is pretty simple. You speak or type in some words you want to translate, then choose the language you want to translate them into. You can save the translated result for later by pinning it, and then come back to it when you really need it — say, if you’re hitting a vacation town for the evening and need some common phrases to help you get around.

Unlike Google Translate, Microsoft Translator has a companion app for Android Wear so you don’t have to pull out your phone to make a new translation or access your pinned translations. Google Now can do some short translations, but nothing very long from my experience. Where Google Translate may lack, however, it makes up in a conversation mode which requires less tapping of the microphone to translate the voices of two people having a conversation — something Microsoft’s solution does not do.

Microsoft Translator, the underlying translation technology powering the app, supports just over 50 languages (yes, including Klingon), and Microsoft periodically adds new languages. The company says that the most important data its translation tools need to accurately translate languages on-the-fly is a lot of existing translations — 1 million translations of the same text into two languages, approximately.

Clearly, though, the new Wear app in particular is an experiment for Microsoft. From their blog post on the launch:

Wearables are a fascinating place to understand user experiences for translation. No other type of device allows people to interact with so little physical intrusion from the device itself— PC’s, tablets, and even phones can be occasionally awkward and unnatural in the middle of a conversation. With these smart devices, we want to learn how people use the apps and how effective the translation experiences can be. By integrating translation capabilities into devices that are instantly on hand (pun intended), we hope to continue to break down the last barrier in human communication— language.

Translation Stories June 25, 2015

Google Translate will slow down its text-to-speech on second listen

Noticed by a tipster speaking to the (unofficial) Chrome Operating System blog, Google Translate, the multilingual translation tool, has a neat way of converting text translations to speech.

Translate’s text-to-speech function can be used on both the original text and the translated version of the inputted text, which can be helpful when you’re not quite sure how to pronounce a phrase out loud. But maybe you’re trying to get the pronunciation exactly as its spoken by the text-to-speech and you’re having trouble hearing it clearly. I know I’ve experienced that before. Interestingly, the team behind the product seems to have recognized this frustration and programmed the function to slow down its enunciation when you click “Listen” a second time for the same text. Clicking it a third time consecutively will enunciate at the original speed, however.

This seems like something that would be cool to be able to explicitly toggle on and off, rather than simply alternating like it does now. A nice detail nonetheless, however.

Translation Stories August 7, 2014

Yelp for Android update with Bing-powered review translation feature coming soon

Yelp announced today that it would be updating its Android application “soon” with a new feature that automatically translates reviews in 15 different languages. According to a Yelp blog post:

The translation feature works for all 15 officially supported Yelp languages: English, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, French, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, and Japanese.

An exact date for the feature on Android has not been announced yet. The Yelp app is free on the Google Play Store.

Translation Stories July 3, 2014

Google testing new & improved Translate tool directly in search results

While it’s not appearing for all users, Google appears to be testing its Translate tool directly in search results. Specific search results for translations such as “Hola in english” already presented users with the answer directly above search results, but now search queries like “translate” “translation” and “translate tool”— which most users search for when looking for translation services— present a redesigned translate tool (pictured above) where users can enter text and adjust languages right from the search results page.

It’s unclear if this is just a test or something Google plans to roll out more broadly, but it’s certainly something that other translation services might not be all too pleased with. The first search result below the new tool is most often “Google Translate”, as it was before the roll out of the new translate tool in search results.

Google told us it’s “always working on improvements to our products.” 

Translation Stories November 12, 2013

Google’s App Translation Service now available to all developers

Back at Google I/O in May, the company announced some updates rolling out to its Google Play Developer Console with some of the highlights including beta testing, staged rollouts, and a new app translation service. After a successful pilot program, Google has announced on its Android Developers blog that the App Translation Service is now open to all developers:

To help developers reach users in other languages, we launched the App Translation Service, which allows developers to purchase professional app translations through the Google Play Developer Console. This is part of a toolbox of localization features you can (and should!) take advantage of as you distribute your app around the world through Google Play… You’ll be able to upload your app’s file of string resources, select the languages you want to translate into, select a professional translation vendor, and place your order. Pro tip: you can put your store listing text into the file you upload to the App Translation Service. You’ll be able to communicate with your translator to be sure you get a great result, and download your translated string files

Developers interested in purchasing translation services can find the App Translation Service at bottom of the APK section in the Google Play Developer Console. 

Translation Stories July 10, 2013

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Just a day after Chrome 28 was released to Mac and Windows with rich notifications, the update is now available to Android devices with a its own feature set. With the update, Chrome for Android now offers built-in Google Translate support, meaning that if you visit a site in a different language, a bar will appear at the bottom asking if you wish to translate it. The update also adds fullscreen support for tablets, as well as a new interface for languages that are read right-to-left.

The full change log from Google follows:

  • Fullscreen on tablets – Scroll to hide the toolbar
  • Google Translate – Look for translation bar when reading web pages in other languages
  • New user interface for right-to-left (RTL) languages, including Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew

The update is available on the Play Store nowexpand full story

Translation Stories March 27, 2013

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.

Translation Stories February 20, 2013

YouTube partners with Gengo and Translated.net to offer caption translations in 36 languages

YouTube announced on its YouTube Partners & Creators blog today that it is partnering with two translation services— Gengo and Translated.net— to allow YouTube content creators to order professional caption translations directly through the site’s video editor. From within the video manager, users can request a translation in one of 36 languages and select a vendor to start the translation process (as pictured above). It’s not entirely built-in to YouTube, as the announcement noted users would be redirected to the “vendor’s website to complete payment.” Once the translation is complete, it will be available on YouTube:

Just click “Start order” next to the vendor you’d like to use. This will then create an order and direct you to the vendor’s website to complete payment. When the translator completes the translation, they’ll send the translated caption directly back to YouTube. Once you approve, the translated caption will now be available for all your viewers!

You can learn more about the new feature here.

Translation Stories October 31, 2012

Google is updating its Google Translate service with a few new features today. Among the new features is grouped clusters of synonyms for easier viewing, and frequency indicators that mark translations as “common, uncommon, or rare”. Google also explained a new “reverse translations” feature:

Our users often tell us that they check our translations by translating them back into their original language. Reverse translations can distinguish translations of different meanings and reveal subtle differences among similar words. Each translation is now annotated with its most frequent reverse translations.

The new grouped synonyms will initially only be available when translating into English, but Google said more languages will be added soon. Google also described how the frequency indicators will work: expand full story

Translation Stories August 9, 2012

Google updated its Google Translate Android app today to version 2.5, and it added a number of notable features including the ability to translate text from images. When snapping an image of a street sign or anything else containing text and highlighting the text within the image using your finger, Google Translate will instantly provide a translation for devices running Android 2.3 and above (as shown in the screenshot to the right).

Other features added in the update for all users include instant translation results while typing, the ability to select a dialect preference for speech input, and support for multiple characters at once for Japanese handwriting. Google also noted it added “access network state permission to check network availability when sending requests.”

As always, the updated Google Translate app is available on Google Play now. expand full story

Translation Stories May 3, 2012

There are more than a few tools online to help you learn a new language, but none are as effective as immersing yourself in another country’s language by actually traveling there. Since we all do not have the time to do so, Google’s Creative Lab is providing a similar immersive experience through a new Chrome extension that employs the Google Translate API for translating certain text on any given webpage.

Available through the Google Chrome store, Google teamed up Use All Five to create the “Language Immersion for Chrome” extension and to currently provide options for translating a page into a mix of “Frenglish, Spanglish or even Tagaloglish.” However, all 64 languages supported by Google Translate are available. You can also roll over words to hear them pronounced, or click them to translate to English.

Within the extension, you will be able to filter the level of immersion with a sliding scale going from “Novice” to “Fluent” as you become more comfortable with any given language. A video demo of the extension in action is above. expand full story

Translation Stories May 1, 2012

Gmail just received three handy improvements, while killing off some aging features, but the most notable update is automatic message translation.

According to the Official Gmail Blog, Google pushed Gmail Labs’ automatic message translation to everyone today after receiving overwhelming positive feedback on the feature from Google Apps for Business users:

We heard immediately from Google Apps for Business users that this was a killer feature for working with local teams across the world. […] Since message translation was one of the most popular labs, we decided it was time to graduate from Gmail Labs and move into the real world. Over the next few days, everyone who uses Gmail will be getting the convenience of translation added to their email.

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