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January 14, 2011

Google Translate for Android gets full voice translation

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by Darren Allan

Google Translate has received some attention this week, with an update which adds an exciting but still experimental feature.

The Android app has also been graced with an improved input box, cleaner icons and a better layout to help the user friendliness factor along somewhat. But the big addition is the conversation mode.

This new and experimental feature means the app can now translate conversation between two people in real-time. Although currently, it only does Spanish.

Here’s how it works to ensure there are no more English speaking people in Spanish bakeries pointing at loaves and saying very loudly: “HOW MUCH?”

Firing up Google Translate, you switch to conversation mode, press the microphone for English and say “How much is that loaf of bread, kind shop-keep?”

The app then translates that sentence into Spanish, and reads it out (you might want to leave out the ‘kind shop-keep’ bit). The Spaniard can then respond in Spanish into the phone, which is translated back to English for you. Clever stuff.

Of course, Google points out this tech is still in the alpha stages, so don’t expect a huge amount of accuracy yet. Regional accents and rapid talking may well throw it off somewhat, and even background noise to some extent.

Still, there’s no denying this is a very cool development for travellers. Couple this up with the Word Lens app – which translates menus and signs via photographs – when it’s made available for Android, and you’ll have a pretty watertight language conquering mobile solution. In theory, anyway.

To run Google Translate, you’ll need to have a phone with the Android 2.1 OS or better, and a Spanish person who doesn’t mind having it waved in their face.

Story link: Google Translate for Android gets full voice translation

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