Translation Stories July 6, 2016

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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Deal: Get Pixelbook at 25% off: $750!

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.” 

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