I'm sure you're all familiar with Google Translate by now. The admittedly flawed tool does its best to provide an accurate translation of Web pages for those of us who couldn't pay attention during our classes on ancient Latin and its influences on modern romance languages. We're not talking about the Web version though. The Android app has seen a major update that's loads of fun.
If you're familiar with the Google Translate app on Android, you know that a user can speak or type a phrase into their phone and have the translated version read back to them. It's a great way to, as Google puts it, "break through the language barrier."
The big change this time around is that the app's text-to-speech capabilities has been expanded to 40 languages. You can type in a phrase or a word and the app will read it back to you in a near perfect accent. It's pretty impressive.
We tried out this particular feature here at the office with the phrase, "What is the secret of the ooze?" It seems that the reference was not lost on the Spanish translation as it even used "verde" to describe the green ooze. Other languages including Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic returned results that may or may not have been legitimate. They sounded authentic and that's all that matters.
Playing around with the app also led me to a feature that could possibly change how we communicate with others while in foreign countries. Google Translate features a "Conversation Mode" where the user chooses two languages and can switch between them on the fly as if in a real conversation. It's currently in Alpha and only supports 14 languages, but it's already mighty impressive.
For the linguists and those that just like playing around with languages, Google's new Translate app is a lot of fun and extremely useful. I heartily recommend it just for the fun of having it translate nerdy references in all matter of languages.
If you want to play around with the newly updated app, it's available on Google Play as a free download. The iOS version still only supports text-to-speech in 24 languages. That fact doesn't make it any less fun.