Many of us Android users (and Android Police readers) have been accustomed to using Google Translate to fill our language knowledge gaps, but we often forget the other challenger in the arena: Microsoft Translator. The app was first released last August and when I looked at it back then and compared it to Google's offering, I found it a worthy challenger, but one that lacked a couple of key features.
When Microsoft Translator was released a few months ago, I went through an extensive comparison between it and Google Translate and came out impressed by Microsoft's efforts, but not completely swayed. At the time, Translator had a major advantage in its Android Wear support (a gap that Google has since closed) but lacked many other features like offline functionality, camera view, and most importantly the live conversation mode. Well, Translator has now jumped that last hurdle and added natural conversation support in its app.
The mode works for a few select languages already: Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, with more promised to be added in the future.
Perhaps you recall a feature spotlight from some weeks ago that explained Google's new universal translation option, which was enabled by the Google Translate v4.3 update. This works with the aid of the new text selection actions included in Android 6.0. The latest Chrome Dev version in the Play Store has now added support for instant translation via the new text selection UI, but again, only on Marshmallow.
Are you tired of having to copy text, flip to the Translate app, paste the text, copy the translated text, then paste it back into whatever you're working on? It appears Google has you covered, as long as you're running Android 6.0. Taking advantage of Marshmallow's new contextual selection functionality, it appears that the latest version of the Google Translate app has added the ability to translate words on the fly from text fields that follow the new Text Selection behavior.
It goes without saying that this is incredibly useful. Besides translate, the mind wanders at the possibility of what else could be done with the contextual selection features in Marshmallow.
So you know how when you don't understand what someone's saying on Google+, you click that conveniently located translate button that appears at the bottom of their post and whammo, everything suddenly makes sense? Well, Yelp is planning on bringing some of the magic over to its mobile app. Users will be able to click a button to instantly translate reviews. It may not sound like much, but it could really come in handy when traveling in a country where the local residents speak a different language and you really just want to know where to get a plate of breakfast without breaking the bank.
Google translate can be tricked into providing some hilarious results, but for average queries, it generally does a really good job of translating and offering additional information like synonyms and usage types. It looks like Translate on the web is learning a couple of new tricks though - recently, Google flipped the switch allowing Translate to show usage examples and word definitions. Various alternate translations (sorted by frequency) still appear on the right, while the new bits of info appear in a column on the left.
The additional info may seem like a minor addition, but it's a feature that could be very useful to those in the process of learning a language.
Talon thinks your Twitter experience could use a shot in the arm, and it's ready to provide the juice. A big update has rolled out for the app that provides the ability to view multiple images within a single tweet, queue tweets to go out once a data connection is re-established, filter in top tweets while searching, and perform a whole host of other actions. For example, you can also schedule tweets from the compose window and translate tweets from a foreign language.
Perhaps the most interesting bullet on the ol' change log is Android Wear support. The platform isn't even available for consumers to get their grubby hands on just yet, but when the time comes, Talon wants you all to know it's ready.
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.
Many Google apps received a redesign in time for the launch of KitKat, but the Google Translate app was not one of them. Well, its day is fast approaching. The app is now receiving an update that introduces a new look and other tweaks.
The camera, microphone, and handwriting input options have been moved to the top, and results appear in a clean list below. This should make getting useful translations that much easier.
The update introduces more language support for the app's handwriting feature, so users can manually write words in Esperanto, Hebrew, or Japanese and expect results.
The dream of technology liberating us from the burden of having to learn new languages in order to travel is nothing new. Sci-Fi fans are aware of the possibility that future generations of mankind will use universal translators that can translate whatever language aliens may speak. In our lifetimes, though, smartphones hold the potential to remove the language barrier (we can hope, at least). But what if you don't want to have to whip our your smartphone constantly? You might want to check out SIGMO, a voice translating device that has completely demolished its $15,000 funding goal on Indiegogo. With over $133,000 secured, SIGMO's developers hope to release a product that will revolutionize how people communicate on their vacations and business trips abroad.