Google Assistant Extends Instant Interpreter Mode to Android and iOS Smartphones
Google Assistant’s interpreter mode is expanding from smart speakers to mobile devices this week. Smartphones running Android or iOS operating systems can now use the voice assistant to quickly turn spoken language into a translated transcript.
Mobile Translation Assistant
The new translator feature turns on when a user requests help speaking a language or asks the voice assistant to be a translator for a specific foreign tongue. Previously, asking the Google Assistant to translate would just prompt the voice assistant to open the Google Translate app on the phone if it was installed. In the gif at the top, the user has asked Google Assistant to be a German translator. The user speaks in English, or whatever the language setting on the smartphone is, and the voice assistant transcribes and translates it to be read on the screen or read out loud by Google Assistant to the German waiter in the instance above. The waiter can then choose one of the suggested options in German on the bottom of the screen or simply speak into the phone, which will translate the response back to English for the phone’s owner.
The point of the mobile interpreter feature according to Google is to foster faster communication between people who don’t share a language when out and about. It’s notable that Google chose to add the ability to the Google Assistant mobile app even for Apple devices running iOS. The company may see it as the kind of thing that would encourage iPhone users to start relying on Google Assistant over the bilt-in Siri voice assistant because interpretation mode no longer requires a separate app. The mobile interpreter feature currently includes 44 languages for translation. Along with the voice options, the translation can be done purely by text, with the user picking what languages to translate among manually.
Voice Assistant Linguistics
The mobile translation feature is essentially the same as the instant translation mode Google Assistant gained on smart speakers and smart displays early this year, itself a redressed version of the Google Translate app. Google has been keen to extend its voice assistant-enabled translation services. Instant-translation was a highlight of the Google Pixel Buds earbuds when they were announced and the company rapidly expanded its availability from an exclusive for the Pixel phone and Pixel Buds to making it an option for any headphone or earbuds that can run Google Assistant.
Translation is an attractive feature for voice assistants, Microsoft’s new Surface Earbuds offer it and Amazon has been reportedly working on a similar feature for its Alexa voice assistant. Google is also working on integrating its international data with its voice assistant. A recent update to Google Maps has the voice assistant pronounce foreign place names out loud to help a traveler navigate their way to the right location, for example. Google Assistant has also added not only new languages of late, but new accent variations and new international voices.