A new look for Google Translate for Android

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | 10:53 AM

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and Translate Blog.)

When we launched the first version of Google Translate for Android in January 2010, we were excited about the year ahead. For the first time, we were bringing the capabilities supported on Google Translate—like machine translation, romanization of non-Roman scripts and spoken translations—to the Android platform. We also offered voice input to let you speak the word or phrase you wanted to translate instead of typing it in, and SMS translation so you could translate SMS messages sent to you in foreign languages.

Today, we’re refreshing Translate for Android with several updates to make the app easier to interact with. Among other improvements, we’ve created better dropdown boxes to help select the languages you want to translate from and into, an improved input box, and cleaner icons and layout.

We also want to let you in on an experimental feature that’s still in its earliest stages—Conversation Mode. This is a new interface within Google Translate that’s optimized to allow you to communicate fluidly with a nearby person in another language. You may have seen an early demo a few months ago, and today you can try it yourself on your Android device.

Currently, you can only use Conversation Mode when translating between English and Spanish. In conversation mode, simply press the microphone for your language and start speaking. Google Translate will translate your speech and read the translation out loud. Your conversation partner can then respond in their language, and you’ll hear the translation spoken back to you. Because this technology is still in alpha, factors like regional accents, background noise or rapid speech may make it difficult to understand what you’re saying. Even with these caveats, we’re excited about the future promise of this technology to be able to help people connect across languages.

As Android devices have spread across the globe, we’ve seen Translate for Android used all over. The majority of our usage now comes from outside the United States, and we’ve seen daily usage from more than 150 countries, from Malaysia to Mexico to Mozambique. It’s really rewarding for us to see how this new platform is helping us break down language barriers the world over.

Translate supports 53 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish, and voice input for 15 languages. You can download the application, available for devices running Android 2.1 and above, by searching for “Google Translate” in Android Market or by scanning the QR Code below.


Unknown said...

What 'bout an iPhone version
come on google u know iPhone is better than android

Blake Niemyjski said...

What about adding support for translating images in cursive as well as print for other languages!

Kshitij said...

Why there isn't proper font support for Indic languages on android?

Unknown said...

@aloosh Uhm 1. Android IS Google and 2nd. Android shows a great deal of potential, AND it is easier to develop for than iOS.

Early Android user speaking...

harut1230 said...

I need Armenian language support, and Armenian fonts in Android devices.
aloosh maybe you mean iOS better than Android OS? It is not right.

Unknown said...

The Spanish pronunciation is not very good.

Unknown said...

@aloosh Ask Apple for a translation app for iOS !

Sean Eagan said...

Awesome job! Will be even better if this gets integrated with google voice, so the cross-language conversations can be between people who are not necessarily nearby.

Unknown said...

Another cool feature! Thank you guys!
I'm look forward to support Russian language in the conversation mode.

IIAANN3000 said...

So just want to know: y all the "hate" from certain IOS users?? U like Apple? Go with God. I'm a faithful Android man and think it's better but I don't jump on opportunities to always spout that.
And for the record?
The Sprint EVO 4G? Da' best!! Errybody knows it and it came out a full month(June 4th, 2010) before the "antenna problemed" IPhone...jus sayin...fact, not hearsay.
Go Team Android and Go Google!!

Rico said...

Great! Keep on updating! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Please open up the API to allow 3rd party apps to use the romanization feature.

Kathryn Hill said...

This could be an awesome tool for deaf people. As someone who is deaf and speaks/lipreads, I've long dreamed of having a handheld device that would convert all spoken conversations around me into text.

I just tried this in English to English mode with one person, and it worked! The only issue is that it's not continuous; you have to keep hitting the "reply" button to keep the conversation going.

Abdul Kahar said...

Dear Google,

Can you please add voice translation for Arabic as well as update the Arabic font to something more readible. Use the Uthmani Arabic Font. It is more standard and more people will understand it.

Thank you.

Unknown said...

Why does the app need to have full access to my contacts and SMSs? where is the connect? IS Google creating a huge database?

Unknown said...

I just don't like being stucked in android v1.6 and being missing this kind of stuff.

Nelle said...

This feature makes an Android more exciting to use. that's why I stick to it! :)
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Nelle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

NP said...

Would be nice if the spoken audio can be streamed/downloaded from the translate backend like on the web based Google Translate. TTS on most phones is pretty pathetic. The web based Google Translate on a desktop (won't even run on the Android Browser) is PHENOMENAL, crisp clear voice translations.

DavidAFenton said...

Looks great...iPhone version please :)

Unknown said...

When are you going to let EVERYONE who contributes translations see them IMMEDIATELY -- rather than just swallowing them into the Translation Engine?

Why not CROWDSOURCE translations ?
Show any (poor or great) translations IMMEDIATELY.

In other words, start by showing the Google Translation -- then, let millions of people change/improve the translations IMMEDIATELY -- and, then let reputation/voting "upvote/downvote" better translations.

In many cases only ONE translation (improvement on Google's translation) will be available. That's still better than none.

As it is now -- ONLY the "mighty Google Engine supposedly knows" what is a good translation.

So, as a result, Google's translation is just another Google product which "does NOT get it".

It's another example of where you're falling behind, not taking a "Facebook/Twitter crowdsourcing approach". It doesn't matter that Google Translate is the earliest, best product -- it still sucks, because it's NOT crowdsourcing.

Let anyone add an immediate translation --
I know it'd be crass, chaotic to let everyone's translations IMMEDIATELY show up.

However, let REPUTATION rule --- like eBay reputation. Upvote/downvote. Show several translations -- embed them cleverly. Let older, poorer translations fade to zero.

Think how much quicker your Google Engine would learn if people KNEW their translations would count.

I hate that any translation I contribute NEVER shows.
It's as if Google is just "stealing my work" as a translator --- rather than immediately showing my good work.

I speak Chinese, Japanese, and English (25 years, Beijing, Tokyo, Harvard Universities) -- and trust me -- Google's Chinese translations NEED more work.
The Chinese translations are very rough.

Google Tranlations are known to be "amazing, but crude approximations" --- you will NEVER surpass this until you let 1 billion+ people simultaneously (real-time) improve your product.

The same approach would make YouTube (bilingual) videos MUCH cooler to watch.

C'mon Google --- crowdsouce it !!!

Carl Levinson

JP said...

how can I create a custom QR code for android phones to read?


Bob Mudford said...

A very interesting development. I live in Spain and speak Spanish so I've been able to try it out the conversation mode by having a conversation with myself. I've also tried it out on my Spanish wife - or perhaps better - "my wife, who is Spanish".

Sometimes it works well and sometimes the results are hilarious. But it certainly shows what the future holds. One early point I would make is that the Spanish speaking voice could be improved. Keep it up.

John Hadikusumo said...

I think Google blog should come with free WI FI connection. I live in australia and internet connection is still too expensive for the average people.


Unknown said...

Not amazing enough. I am expecting english to french direct translation on the fly. So for example, one person at one end speak english and the one on the other end, i mean the recipient, hears that conversation in french. If this could happen,what a wonderful world would be.

Just my idea

Psyrinx said...

What about a Nokia version?

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