Skype recently came out with their own home brewed text to speech system – users can talk in Spanish and expect a translation into English or from English into Spanish. However, Google have now entered the game with their own text to speech translation software system, directly through a dedicated Google translate app.
Currently written language is supported by the translate app, providing 500 million monthly users on all platforms and 1000 thousand installs of the direct app on Android phones. Translation of text between 90 different languages is available on the app and additionally spoken translations and pronunciations of text are available to Android users.
The new feature, which allows users to speak to the app and have their words translated, is apparently going to come to Android users in the form of an update.Google also plans to make street signs translatable by the app via a device’s camera – images of signs captured through the camera can be translated through the app.
Microsoft’s Skype translator is already available in beta form, through Skype. The app is only running Spanish translation at the moment, but the limited service is already reeling in experience with a customer base, whereas Google’s effort is yet to get off the ground.
Updates haven’t yet been announced in any official capacity from Google, but as for competition with Skype Google may have the upper hand thanks to their existing experience with translation both through the translate app and native in browser translation in the Google Chrome web browser. But so far the company has only thus far announced that the feature is on the way to The New York Times, so we can’t yet say if the feature is coming soon or not.
Security is also another concern for some users, but Google is confident snooping won’t affect the new system, with Google saying they are going to take care with how voice recordings are interpreted, in case voice input should ever replace text and number based passwords. Google’s Macduff Hughes of Google Translate said that “there is something to be said for having your translator be different – if I speak Chinese, I’d have a woman’s voice, so people know it’s a translation.” relating to voice input.
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As far as translation goes across multiple platforms, the technology behind both voice input and translation between languages is taking off in a major way. Along with Microsoft and Facebook’s forays into the field of translation, voice input to text gurus have been headhunted by Facebook recently.
What this might mean for the social media and internet side of things is an increase in the uses of voice to talk to others in different countries, as well as better detection systems for the words we use. The field has been neglected of late, with major advances coming in other fields eclipsing voice input. Digital assistants like Sir and Cortana will almost certainly benefit from as better detection, which will no doubt improve the services they offer.
Source: NY Times