Feb 7th, 2019

Last month, Google showed off “Interpreter mode” that enables Google Home devices to act as an on-the-fly translator. It works a lot like Google Translate on your smarthpone where one person speaks one language, the other person speaks another, and your Google Assistant becomes the middleman between the two.

At that time they were only testing it in select locations (hotel front desks, mostly), however, it looks like rollout has widened.  Whilst Google hasn’t officially announced it, a support page for the feature just went public. I’ve been using it on my own Google Home devices for the past week, and sure enough: interpreter mode fired right up and work surprisingly well.

To get started, you just say something like “Hey Google, be my interpreter,” (the assistant will ask for your chosen language to translate into) or for example: “Hey Google, help me speak Italian.”

At the moment you have to say the initial command in either English, French, German, Italian, Japanese or Spanish, but once it’s up and running you should be able to translate between the following languages: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

It works pretty well for basic conversations in my quick testing, but it has its quirks. Saying “Goodbye,” for example, ends the translation rather than translating it into the target language, which might be a little confusing if one half of the conversation didn’t realize the chat was nearing its end. However, if you say “goodbye in context within a sentence there’s no problem.

The new feature should work on any Google Home device — and if it’s one with a screen (like Google’s Home Hub), you’ll see the words as they’re translated.

Can you see this feature being something that would help out in your household?