Amazon is bringing live translation to Alexa in the U.S. The voice assistant can now be called upon to detect a conversation in two languages and translate between them sentence by sentence or phrase by phrase.
The feature is available for Echo devices set to English US and will work between English and French, German, Italian, Hindi, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish.
Amazon's science blog has a detailed write-up on the processing that goes on to make the service possible — in short, the company is running multiple speech recognition models simultaneously to quickly identify languages and feed it to the translation server. It has also tolerance to conversation endpoint detection. The whole caboodle still needs more work on idioms and colloquial terms, though.
Google Translate has yet to step into live vocal interpretation, sticking with transcription (with the manual option to vocalize afterwards) for nine languages.