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Google's translation technology is set to become even more effective.
The company will soon add a new feature to its Translate app which will make the service even more like an actual human translator: transcripts. The functionality is expected to roll out to the Translate app's Android version in the coming months (Google hasn't said when an iOS version could be available for iPhone users).
The function is close to how real-time transcription functions in Google's Recorder app, except that it also translates the words of the speaker (in whatever language you specify) instead of merely transcribing them.
Google isn't offering full demos of the function just yet, but in a video shown at a San Francisco press event, the transcription appeared almost as smooth as you would see in the Google Recorder app or with Live Captions. But instead of word-by-word transcriptions, the Translate software transcribes smaller pieces of text.
According to Google, the reason for that is because translations are more difficult than a standard transcription. Just as a human interpreter would need a couple of seconds to interpret what someone is trying to say before determining how best to translate it, the Translate app will also need to determine how best to translate the audio that they hear.
"We would like to get to the level of quality so it's equivalent to someone who's a native speaker just actually interpreting something for you. We're trying to get there one day," said Google product manager Nick Radicevic during a press event at the business.
Radicevic also states that there are a number of other factors that could affect the quality of the transcription, including the microphone on your phone, or even if there is a case on your phone (since a case could interfere with your microphone). In addition, each language has its own complexities which can complicate translations, although he says the target is to have transcripts available for "all the big" languages currently supported by the Translate app.
Yet transcriptions could open up a slew of new possibilities for Google's translation software, even with some limitations. Just as the "Interpreter Mode" of Google Assistant is incredibly useful for short conversations, transcriptions could be of use for longer bits of audio that would otherwise be unavailable.
Image Credit: Vocalb, Google