Google Translate on mobile is about to get a new bag of tricks as Google looks to up its game in voice recognition and translation. The Mountain View, California-based search giant is preparing to release an update for Google Translate, enabling the service to automatically recognize popular spoken languages and convert them into text, the New York Times reported.
The translation service, which first launched in 2006, has grown to support over 80 languages. In the current version, the app supports some voice translation, but it’s not automatic, leaving users to choose the language spoken in order for it to work.
The pending update follows recent efforts from technology firms with multilingual translation tools, including Microsoft’s Skype Translator, which provides real-time translation for video chat. While the Redmond, Washington-based firm says it's working on supporting additional languages, the live translation service only supports English and Spanish in the preview version.
“We have 500 million active users of Translate every month, across all our platforms,” Macduff Hughes, Google Translate engineering director, told the New York Times. And on the mobile front, the company claims over 100 million installs of the Google Translate app on Android devices.
Though the update will add automatic translation support to the mobile service, Google has already baked some of the automatic translation feature into its flagship browser, Chrome. When a user visits a foreign language Web page or website, the browser can automatically translate a Web page to a preferred language.
Google is also expected to unveil another service that will be able to recognize foreign street signs on camera and translate the text on screen, likely the result of the acquisition of Word Lens in 2014, according to Engadget.