This is a welcome move, albeit a surprising one, from a company that has made billions upon billions of dollars doing everything online. Presumably, even their self-driving car will require some online help. As will (offline) Google Translate. Prior to using Google Translate in an offline capacity, users will be forced download language packages for any two languages that the user might translate between. That means users from the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom will likely simply need to download English and another language, where Asian and European who speak multiple languages will be forced to download more in order to translate between two non-native languages. My apologies to the first group but since I belong to it and have seen how monolingual most of us are, it felt necessary.
This offline functionality will not be available for all the languages that currently exist online but Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has already rolled out their first 50. To state the obvious, Google Translate is a great tool for the traveller. It is, however, when traveling that most struggle to find a 3G/4G connection. While WiFi is more prevalent each day around the world. The need for a quick translation often occurs when you are light years away from a connection. Your hotel might have WiFi but it may also have a concierge that can help you with the translation. Chances are when needed, a connection will not be available. Just like a taxi, both domestically and abroad.
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All in all this is a great addition to the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) slate of offerings. Unfortunately, it has only been released for Android and no word has been given as to if or when it will be made available for iOS. Additionally, Google has not been shy in saying that the app will be “less comprehensive than their online equivalents.”
That said, it’s difficult to complain about something that is free. I find when I do the person who gave it to me often asks, “Do you want your money back?”
In addition to the aforementioned features, Google Translate has added support for translation of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese when written vertically using the phone’s camera. Prior to this release, the translate app could only make sense out of horizontal characters from each language.