Google's Translate App to Offer Instant Speech-to-Text Translation on Mobile Phones

The update echoes similar efforts currently being spearheaded by Microsoft's Skype.

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By Geoff Weiss • Jan 12, 2015

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Google is set to deploy an update to its Translate app that could change the face of interlingual communication on mobile devices.

Just as Skype is rolling out software that translates video calls and instant messages in real time, users of Google Translate will soon be able to speak into their phones and receive textual translations instantaneously.

The search giant is also working on a service that would enable users to hold their phones up to foreign street signs and receive an automatic translation, reports The New York Times.

Google Translate provides written translations for roughly 90 total languages, as well as spoken translations for a fraction of these. The app counts 500 million active users every month, its engineering director, Macduff Hughes, told the Times.

While many instant-translation services, including Skype's, are rife with errors given their nascent development, such technology tends to improve with use. That's because computers examine outcomes and adjust their performance accordingly, per the Times -- which is how spell check, search and directions all became reliable online services.

Related: Here's How to Get a Sneak Peek at the New Skype Translator

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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