Google Translate is a free multilingual machine translation service developed by Google, to translate text, speech, images, sites, or real-time video from one language into another. It offers a web interface, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and an API that helps developers build browser extensions and software applications. Google Translate supports over 100 languages at various levelsand as of May 2013, serves over 200 million people daily.
In November 2016, Google announced that Google Translate would switch to a neural machine translation engine – Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) – which translates “whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece. It uses this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar”. GNMT was first enabled for eight languages: to and from English and Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.
Google Translate can translate multiple forms of text and media, including text, speech, images, sites, or real-time video, from one language to another.
It supports over 100 languages at various levels and as of May 2013, serves over 200 million people daily.
For some languages, Google Translate can pronounce translated text, highlight corresponding words and phrases in the source and target text, and act as a simple dictionary for single-word input. If “Detect language” is selected, text in an unknown language can be automatically identified.
If a user enters a URL in the source text, Google Translate will produce a hyperlink to a machine translation of the website.
For some languages, text can be entered via an on-screen keyboard, handwriting recognition, or speech recognition.
Google Translate is available in some browsers as an extension which can run the translation engine.
A number of Firefox extensions exist for Google services, and likewise for Google Translate, which allow right-click command access to the translation service.
An extension for Google’s Chrome browser also exists; in February 2010, Google Translate was integrated into the Chrome browser by default, for optional automatic web page translation.
The Google Translate app for Android and iOS supports more than 90 languages and can translate 37 languages via photo, 32 via voice in “conversation mode”, and 27 via real-time video in “augmented reality mode”.
The Android app was released in January 2010, while an HTML5 web application was released for iOS users in August 2008, followed by a native app on February 8, 2011.
An early 2011 version supported Conversation Mode when translating between English and Spanish (in alpha testing). This interface within Google Translate allows users to communicate fluidly with a nearby person in another language. In October 2011 it was expanded to 14 languages.
The ‘Camera input’ functionality allows users to take a photograph of a document, signboard, etc. Google Translate recognises the text from the image using optical character recognition (OCR) technology and gives the translation. Camera input is not available for all languages.
In January 2015, the application gained the ability to translate text in real time using the device’s camera, as a result of Google’s acquisition of the Word Lens app.The speed and quality of real-time video translation (augmented reality) feature were further enhanced in July 2015 with the release of a new implementation that utilizes convolutional neural networks.