Ina Fried

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Google Translate Can Now Say “Take That, Siri” in 14 Languages

Google’s translation app for Android can now converse in far more languages.

The company, which has long offered text translations and speech-to-text translation, in January added an experimental feature allowing speech-to-speech translation between English and Spanish.

With Thursday’s update, the app now can translate among 14 spoken languages. Along with English and Spanish, the app now translates between Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian and Turkish.

“Mobile technology and the web have made it easier for people around the world to access information and communicate with each other,” product manager Jeff Chin said in a blog posting. “But there’s still a daunting obstacle: the language barrier. We’re trying to knock down that barrier so everyone can communicate and connect more easily.”

Chin noted that the technology remains an early alpha version, with accents and background noise still a factor in accuracy.

“But since it depends on examples to learn, the quality will improve as people use it more,” Chin said. “We wanted to get this early version out to help start the conversation no matter where you are in the world.”

Google has also added in a feature that lets you hear what it thinks you said before it translates. That can be especially useful if what one wants to ask is “How much for the knife?” and Google hears “How much for your wife?”

The update comes in handy as AllThingsD heads to AsiaD, with the mobile team (a.k.a. me) headed to Taiwan and Korea in addition to Hong Kong. We’ll try to do a hands-on test in at least one of the supported languages on the trip.

Meanwhile, the number of languages supported for text and text-to-speech translations continues to grow, with 63 languages supported for text, speech-to-text in 17 languages and text-to-speech working in 24 languages.

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