Google Translate has been available for some years. Since the end of 2013, the Android version of the app has had the capacity to translate the spoken word. However, it could translate only one phrase at a time. Now, like some technology out of a science-fiction
film, the new version of Google Translate can act as a real-time translator between two people speaking different languages.
This makes it ideal for those travelling abroad.
In order to use the real-time speech translation in a conversational setting, you need only open the app and press the microphone button. When speech in a foreign language is detected, it is immediately translated into your native language, spoken aloud and displayed on the phone’s screen.
To reply, you press the microphone button again, respond in your native tongue and have it immediately translated into the other speaker’s language. The app will then recognise both languages as they are spoken and translate every phrase as it is uttered. Two people can then have a fairly seamless conversation with the phone serving as their interpreter.
Wide choice of languages
The app can currently translate 91 languages. Of these, 52 can be downloaded to your phone for offline use (using the app without having to access the Internet) thus saving considerably on data charges. At present, Afrikaans is the only one of South Africa’s other languages than can be downloaded for voice translation. However, there is text translation for Zulu.
Word lens – translating text on an image
In May 2014, Google acquired Word Lens, an app which translates any text that can be viewed through your camera lens in real time. With this app, a South African farmer in Paris can at last understand those French menus!