Google has just launched an application that allows a mobile phone to instantly translate a conversation. Users speaking into a device running Google’s own Android operating system will hear their words translated into another language, and their conversation partner’s words will then be translated back into their original tongue.
The service will launch in a trial “alpha” version that will only work in Spanish and English, but Google says it expects to launch other languages in the fairly near future.
“We know very well what Google considers beta – after all, Gmail, Docs, and Calendar all shared that status until mid-2009 – but here’s a chance to check out an experiment from Mountain View that’s ‘still in its earliest stages,'” writes Ross Miller on Endgadget.
Discussed back in December 2009, and demonstrated as a prototype last fall, Conversation Mode has arrived. Google Translate Conversation Mode is a user interface for mobile devices designed to facilitate a real-time conversation between two people speaking different languages.
While Google Translate for Android previously could be used to do this, the app’s design was optimized to provide translations for single words or phrases, and to speak the translations in a subset of supported languages. It wasn’t well-suited for real-time, back-and-forth translation because too much user input was required to submit each word or phrase.
“In Conversation Mode, simply press the microphone for your language and start speaking,” explains Google product manager Awaneesh Verma in a blog post.
“Google Translate will translate your speech and read the translation out loud. Your conversation partner can then respond in [his or her] language, and you’ll hear the translation spoken back to you.” [via The Telegraph (UK), Information Week and Engadget]