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9.18.19
Tech Talks

Google Assistant Can Now Translate 27 Languages in Real-Time

January 9th 19__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Artificial Intelligence
Tag Hartman-Simkins

Speaking My Language

Google Assistant has learned a remarkable new skill.

Google debuted a new “Interpreter Mode” for its AI-powered Assistant at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week.

The feature can translate a conversation between two people speaking different languages in real-time, and while demos reveal that the tech is far from flawless, it foreshadows a future in which the global language barrier is non-existent.

Lost in Translation

Starting Interpreter Mode is no more difficult than giving Google Assistant any other command.

To translate a conversation with a French speaker, for example, a user just says, “Hey Google, be my French interpreter.” After that, the Assistant will translate any English it detects into French and vice versa, speaking the translations as well as displaying them in writing when a screen is available. It currently works with 27 languages.

Several outlets, including The Verge and TechRadar, tested out the feature at CES. And while it worked as advertised most of the time, it did make a few, sometimes funny, mistakes — when translating the phrase “allergic to shrimp” from Chinese to English for Verge reporter  she was “allergic to sand.”

Getting Better

Small mistakes aside, Interpreter Mode reportedly works better than Google’s language-translating Pixel Buds. It also doesn’t require the user to open an app, like they have to if they want to use Google Translate, making for a more seamless experience.

According to a Google blog post, the company will roll out Interpreter to Google Home devices and Smart Displays over the next few weeks. No word yet on when the feature will hit smartphones, but when it does, it has the potential to forever change how the world communicates.

READ MORE: Google Assistant’s New Interpreter Mode Can Translate Conversations — but It’s Not Magic [The Verge]

More on language translation: Google’s New Earbuds Can Translate 40 Languages Instantly in Your Ear