Google Phone Offers Multi-Lingual Conversation

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has unveiled two new tools for its Android phone system. One is genuinely useful while the other appears to be an impressive gimmick.

The first tool is an extension to the existing Google Translate feature. As well as offering traditional translation services, the phones could recognize voices and offer a translation of spoken words. However, as with most automated translation tools and traditional phrasebooks, this was limited in conversations with foreign speakers.

That's now been solved by the introduction of a conversation mode. For example: a Spanish user can speak into the phone and have it translated automatically into English. The English user can respond to the translation by speaking into the phone, and the phone will automatically convert it to Spanish. The process is repeated throughout the conversation. (Source:

Smooth Operator Behind New Translation System

The system works seamlessly, without the need to fiddle about with menus to change language settings back and forth. That could be particularly useful when asking a local for help in a foreign country, for example.

During the conversation, there's a text record of what both parties have said, meaning it's possible to check back to see where things might have gone wrong if the translation is incorrect.

The tool has launched in English and Spanish only, though it should be extended to other languages once the company has had a chance to iron out early problems. The Translate app supports voice input for 15 languages, and text-only translation for another 38. Eventually, the idea is to make the conversation mode work on two handsets simultaneously, allowing users speaking different languages to hold a phone conversation.

Google Phone Solves Sudoku in a Snap

Google has also added some new features to Google Goggles, a phone app that uses images captured by a camera phone to carry out a search. The app currently includes features such as providing more details about a bottle of wine, capturing the contact details from a business card, or identifying the artist of a painting.

The update adds a tool for the logic game Sudoku. It's able to use the camera to capture the layout of the numbers already provided in a puzzle, then work out the correct answer. In a demonstration video, the process was able to solve a puzzle quicker than a national Sudoku champion. (Source:

Of course, there's little point to the tool as the only reason to complete Sudoku is as a personal challenge. But, it's certainly an example of the creative possibilities the app offers.

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