Now Google will translate street signs for you

Google has expanded the offerings of its Translate app to introduce offline translations and instant visual translations in Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

These features will be on Translate’s Android and iOS apps. It was earlier available only in Hindi among Indian languages.

Offline translations allow users to translate a word or sentence on Google Translate app without connecting to the internet. To make use of this feature, users will have to download language packs for both the languages they want to translate in the app while they are connected to the internet.

Instant visual translation, on the other hand, enables users to point their phone’s camera at printed text or a physical signboard and view the translation in augmented reality. Google has also introduced support for conversation mode in two Indian languages Bengali and Tamil. Conversation mode works like a mobile interpreter, enabling users to have a bilingual conversation with someone by simply talking to the Google Translate app.

This launch comes nearly five months after Google introduced neural machine translation for nine Indian languages—Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, and Malayalam.

Barak Turovsky, head of product and design at Google Translate and Machine Intelligence, said that one of the critical gaps in the translation of Indian languages is that there are not enough training data or translated data on the Internet. “With neural translation, we are now able to dramatically improve the translation quality and we will continue to further improve the translation quality,” Turovsky said.

Neural translation, which was introduced by the search giant in May last year, translates full sentences at a time instead of the old phrase-based system that translated pieces of a sentence. This has helped the company double the number of India users for its Translate service in the past six months. Google didn’t disclose the number of Translate users in India but globally it has more than one billion monthly active users.


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