Language barriers might be a bit less insurmountable later this year when Microsoft releases the first beta of Skype Translator. As demoed last night at the Code Conference, Redmond is close to implementing near real-time voice translation of multiple languages in a Skype call. We might be getting close the the fabled babel fish.
What the heck does that say? Is it even a language? Inapp Translator might be able to tell you what's up, and you won't even have to hop back and forth between apps. Once activated, Inapp Translator places a floating button on the screen that can pull up instant translations of the text in your clipboard.
Those of you lucky enough to be visiting Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics might not have opulent luxuries like floors or potable water, but at least getting around town will be a little easier thanks to the Word Lens app. The developers added support for Russian today, allowing users to translate signs, menus, and other text on the fly.
If you've never used Word Lens, then you really should, at least if you're frequently traveling to places that don't speak your native language. The app uses augmented reality to translate text from one language to another, then re-insert it into the live image from your phone's camera.
Wondering what that sign says, but you don't speak the lingo? You might want to figure it out – signs convey important information. Maybe it says "keep off the grass," but it could also say "high risk of electric shock." Word Lens can help with that by doing live translation of text using optical character recognition and the camera. It's neat, and the newest version adds support for tablets.
Word Lens is the kind of app that might not get daily use, but when you do fire it up, it can save your bacon with fast offline translations. This is not just any translation app, though. Word Lens uses your device's camera to overlay the text translation using optical character recognition. Well, this app just got a nice little update to version 2.1 with some new features.
Word Lens now supports Portuguese ⇄ English translations, but it's not included with the app. Word Lens has a slightly confusing payment system. The $4.99 paid version comes with one language pack of your choice.
Between Hangouts, the gorgeous new Maps, Play Music All Access, and everything else discussed in I/O's opening keynote this morning, several revisions to the Play Store developer's console were announced.
Perhaps the most interesting addition to the console will be an organized method for alpha and beta testing, and staged rollouts. Basically, developers can select alpha and beta testers, receiving all feedback directly (instead of through reviews) and, when the time comes, roll out the app to certain percentages of the user base.
The changes also include a major help in ensuring your apps make sense to international users – a full translation service by which developers can order specific translations, come back a week or so later, and download the translations directly from the console.
Google Translate has always been one of the unsung heroes of the free service space. On the one hand, it doesn't provide a perfect translation, so people are still hesitant to call it a true breakthrough. On the other hand, we use it all the time to translate web pages enough to get the gist and, when combined with speech-to-text and text-to-speech, you can use the Android app as the closest thing to a universal translator in your pocket the world has ever seen. Now, it's getting even better with offline language packs.
Starting today, you can download any of the 51 language packs available and have always-on access to translation between any combination of the ones you've chosen.
Recently, Google quietly began to test auto translation for app reviews in the developer console. Today, the company publicly announced that same feature and began rolling it out to all devs. Now, when they log in to their control panel, they can see the reviews in their preferred language, along with the original text. Neat.
Of course, this still isn't a replacement for native fluency, but it should aid developers in troubleshooting problems that users on the other side of the language barrier discover. This, coupled with replies to reviews, enables a high degree of communication between devs and users, which can only be a great thing.
WordLens is one of those borderline-magical apps that make me feel like I'm living in a scifi novel. The initial release was a little buggy, and the UI made it clear the app was a direct port from iOS. The 2.0 update just dropped, though, and it takes care of a lot of those issues.
If you've never heard of WordLens, here's the deal: hold your phone up to a sign or some other thing with words on it, and WordLens uses your camera to translate those words to another language of your choosing in real time. The translations are overlaid on top of the live camera feed, which is kind of a wow moment (when it works).
Vocre, a voice and text translator that won audience choice in TechCrunch's Disrupt, came to Android today, bringing with it a promising challenger to Google's own Translate app and a "tabletop UI" meant specifically for extended conversations with those on either side of the language barrier.
As shown in the video above, Vocre's interface is exceedingly simple. Users need only select languages and genders, then record their message, check for accuracy, and let the app do the rest. Vocre, for those curious, uses Nuance services to translate your words as a text string, returning results (with pretty reliable accuracy) in the desired language.