Report: Google Translate will soon get real-time translation features



Google Translate is a great tool for breaking down language barriers, but that tool is about to get even better if the latest report from the New York Times is anything to go by. The publication reports that Google is readying an update for Translate that’ll translate speech to text in real time, so asking for directions in a foreign country doesn’t have to be a clunky, drawn out process or require you to search high and low for someone who speaks the same language as you.

It’s a natural progression for one of the widest-used translation tools on the internet, especially considering other companies have begun implementing similar features in other apps (of noteworthy mention is Microsoft’s Skype, albeit in a very limited form of Spanish-to-English right now).

The belief is that Google will take things a step further and utilize the interesting company they bought a while back by the name of Quest Visual. That company makes an app which lets users look at words on a sign or poster through their phone’s camera and get immediate translation of that word in a multitude of languages (perfect for translating things like street signs or store names).

Unfortunately the early details are scarce, and there’s no clue how robust this feature will be in the early going. One of the biggest hurdles of implementing features like this is proper voice dictation in a multitude of languages, but Google’s gotten a pretty good head start on that for voice-enabled searching and actions on their search engine, Android and iOS apps.

The other hurdle that needs to be hopped is a sizable and accurate translation engine — check that one off for Google, too. The last hurdle? The development of the technology in a way that makes it all seamless, fast and easy for two people to communicate in different languages and understand each other just as well as two identical native tongues would.

If Google’s able to get that done then it could become the single greatest tool to help people overcome the frustrations that differing languages can impose on a social life. Let’s hope we hear more from the titan in Mountain View soon enough.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. It would be quite impressive if this ends up working well. I think there would be WAY too many bugs to work out to actually come to fruition. I’m crossing my fingers tho!

  2. Following in the footsteps of Microsoft yet again, I see. They’re reaching Samsung levels of copycatting these days, honestly.

    1. Because real time translation hasn’t been a big goal for humanity for thousands of years, but Microsoft thought of it? This kind of thing takes years of research, so I doubt they’ve only just decided on it.

      1. Yeah, they’ve been working on it for years but, magically, just decided to release news of it days after Microsoft announces it…..

    2. How long have you been working in Redmond? How do you like the job?

    3. The Pomegranate has been doing this and more since 2008.

  3. Wow, it will catch up to Microsoft Translate?

  4. If they put this in hangouts as subtitles it would be a game changer.

  5. The company they bought is the company that created World Lens and that app is pretty much flawless. It’s also free in the Play Store. The Google Translate app works very well, so to mix the both of them into one app is the right move

  6. Google translate has had the ability to translate signs/writing for a year now in limited capacity.

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