Written by Samantha Steyn
It’s an app you won’t believe until you see it for yourself. And, by all means, please go and visit the iStore/Google Play Store and download the latest version of the Google Translate App; you won’t be sorry you did. The search giant has taken one step closer to achieving their goal of transforming the mobile phone into a universal translator, in real time and using no data. Unbelievable? Believe it.
Earlier on this week, an insider leaked information relating to the revolutionary app that was to be launched just a couple of days later, on the 14 January 2015. It seems this source just could not wait to tell all what was to come, and with good reason! The latest version of the Google Translate app bears two key, updated features:
- Conversation mode
- Camera mode
Although the conversation mode has been around for a while, Google has now made efforts to increase its efficiency, making it faster, simpler and, generally, better. Although not yet at its absolute best; with the app working optimally when using short sentences, with no jargon, and pausing in-between translations, I think we can all agree that it is not far from reaching its peak. For all you ‘newbies’, the way it works is as follows: in the event that you would like to have a conversation, in English, with your French friend; you would choose English as your language and French for them. Then, when you’re ready to begin your discussion, tap the microphone icon and begin speaking, tapping it once more once you have completed your first sentence. From there on, the app is intelligent enough to recognize which language belongs to who and you no longer have to tap the microphone. You can simply chat away as if you were both speaking the same language; while the written translation appears on your screens as you speak into the app. Incredible isn’t it?
“When talking with someone in an unfamiliar language, conversations can… get… reallllly… sloooowwwww.[This is no longer the case with the new Google Translate app].” – Barak Turovsky (Google Translate product lead)
Although impressive, the conversation mode is still surpassed by the camera mode feature, offered by the latest version of the Google Translate app. Once again, although this feature already exists on previous versions of the app, it has now been enhanced to the point where you need only hover your phone over the desired sign, menu, or newspaper print, you wish to translate, in order for the translated text to appear overlaid on your screen. This is different to previous versions where you were required to take a photo of the text in order to have the app translate it into your native language. One less tap of a button; now that’s technological progress for you! Furthermore, the feature works to translate English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish; with developers working as we speak on increasing the number of languages featured in this list. When using the camera mode to take a photo, the app is able to offer translations in 36 languages, while the conversation mode provides access to 38 different languages.
The Word Lens – the apparatus that enables the camera mode to perform the way it does – was originally produced by Calfornia-based developers, Quest Visual, who were purchased by Google in 2014. The Word Lens tool uses augmented reality to function and is expected to be used across Google’s platforms, including in their wearable computer initiatives, such as Google Glass. With this technology, Google is one step closer to achieving their aim of transforming the world into one where language is no longer a barrier to discovering information or connecting with people from around the world.
“More than 500 million people use Google Translate every month – that’s more than one billion translations a day.” – Turovsky
Aside from transforming international relations, the latest version of the Google Translate app is set to forever change global business operations as well as travelling in a foreign place.
“Often, the hardest part of travelling is navigating the local language.” – Turovsky
Thanks to Google, it seems that will no longer be a problem.