Google's been flexing its translation powers lately, and why not — for moving between at least some languages, Google Translate is as close as you can get to magic. A few users have started seeing translation options pop up on YouTube, both the web interface on desktops and the mobile app version.
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.
In mid-July, Gboard's Play Store listing added a cryptic changelog that mentioned voice dictation translations. We started looking for signs of that feature and couldn't find any until now, when it finally showed up on the latest Gboard beta v9.7. Google has also confirmed to us that it's rolling it out to everyone.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Unless you've been forcibly avoiding the news, you know iOS 14 is now a thing. But if you don't use an iPhone (or maybe even if you do), you might not have bothered checking out what was new in Apple's latest mobile operating system. But as fail to be basically every year we watch the WWDC keynote, no one on the Android Police was surprised to have one recurring thought: "hey, that feature looks familiar." Apple apparently felt very inspired by Android in the last year, and iOS 14 has a whole bunch of "world-first" innovations to show you that—very coincidentally!—also
With everything going on in the world lately, it can be hard to keep up with it all. Google News can be great help there, with the app supporting features like curated stories, daily briefings, and a dark theme. Google even added support for displaying content in two languages together within the feed last year. But it's not all good news, because the in-app translation feature is currently borked.
The ways we experience media on the web tend to be designed only for the publisher's intended medium. You don't consume videos just for their sound, for example, and podcasts don't often come with word-for-word transcripts, but there are ways of enjoying those pieces of content with augmentation. Some of the toughest challenges in making text sites cross-consumable via dictation has been in naturalizing machine voices and translating stories rich in grammatical tapestry from other languages. Google Assistant is now bringing its answers to those challenges with new text-to-speech functionality available today.
Back in 2011, Google Translate made it easier to interpret live discussions thanks to Conversation mode. The app also got a fresh coat of paint more recently, making it easier to summon it. In parallel, Assistant-enabled speakers got the ability to translate live conversations in April, which essentially turned them into digital interpreters. Unfortunately, the functionality was exclusive to smart speakers and displays and wasn't available on phones until now. Google just released the feature on mobile devices as well, making it easier to have a conversation with someone who speaks a different language on the go.
How do you pronounce quokka? Pronunciation can be difficult to perfect, especially with a language containing as many silly, varied rules as English. Practice, though, helps solidify a skill. Google has provided pronunciation guides since April of this year. Now, they'll also give you the chance to vocally practice your pronunciation of American English, and, "soon," Spanish.
Interpreting and translating live speech is much trickier than simply processing written text. Indeed, unlike human brains, machines would typically need to go through three separate phases to convert oral communication from one language to another. Initially, speech would need to be interpreted by the machine and transcribed into text, which would then be translated into the target dialect, before being fed into a text-to-speech engine to be spoken out loud. Although this cascaded process is transparent for the user and relatively fast, Google is working on a more natural speech-to-speech method it called Translatotron, which doesn't need intermediate processing for translation.
Translation is tricky, as you know if you've read any web page automatically converted by Google Translate; different tongues have different nuances that are hard to teach to an algorithm. Specifically, the way languages handle gender varies, and these discrepancies previously led to Google Translate to make assumptions and provide potentially inaccurate translations. Now, though, when gender is ambiguous in a translation input, the output will show both masculine and feminine terms, eliminating the guesswork.