Google Attempts Real-Time (And Audible) Translation

    January 12, 2011

Language barriers can be incredibly frustrating.  There’s nothing quite like facing another intelligent human being and realizing you’ll both have to mime things for the next five minutes in order to have any chance of understanding each other.  But Google’s attempting to fix that with a new "Conversation Mode" in Google Translate for Android.

A word of caution: don’t first try out Conversation Mode when money, a legal matter, or food is at stake.  Google – which is usually happy to slap a beta tag on just about anything – warned that the technology is still in alpha.

One more note: at the moment, English and Spanish are the only two languages Conversation Mode is able to handle.

The new tech should be easy to use, however.  A post on the Google Mobile Blog explained, "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."

Justifiably, the post later added, "[W]e’re excited about the future promise of this technology to be able to help people connect across languages."