Google Translate Releases New Features

By November 16, 2009

Google Translate released three new features today that make using the service quicker and easier. While Translate has been able to translate text and web pages between 51 languages for some time now, these features are sure to make a big difference. Translate Instantly - As text is typed into the dialogue box, a response is formulated as the words are translated at once. Instead of clicking on the now vestigial "Translate" button, the sentence is formed in the target language immediately. Read and write any language - For languages written in non-Roman letters or characters, the user can still read the translation phonetically. After clicking the "Show romanization" option next to my English to Japanese translation, a pronounceable text by syllable appears.

It is also now possible to change the written language without owning a special keyboard, in Hindi for example. When a word like "dhanyavada" is typed into the translation box, in its phonetic state, and the space bar is hit, "धन्यवाद" appears.

Text-to-speech - When the target language is English, the result may include a small speaker icon. After clicking this, an audio clip is played of the translation. This only works if the passage is not very long, perhaps a sentence at most.

Responses have been very positive - the features are simple to use, in keeping with many Google services. Mashable found the real-time translation most useful, projecting that it "may change how people interact with the tool."

In keeping with the mentality of Google Wave, Translate is showing a greater leaning towards instantaneous usability. This real time quality is what Google seems to be working toward with many of their services. Because of this same quality, this writer is looking forward to where Wave and Translate intersects, in that difficult place of instant interaction despite mutual unintelligibility. The experience of Translate, while still imperfect in the realms of idiom and others, is nevertheless more fluid than ever.

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