Last month, we had our first glimpse of Google Assistant's interpreter mode for smart displays and speakers. Now, everyone with Google Home devices or smart displays (as well as some smart speakers) can try out the mode after Google started rolling it out to those devices, as noted by Android Police. You'll need to activate the mode (by saying something like "turn on interpreter mode or "Help me speak Spanish") in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese or Spanish. Once you've started it though, the interpreter will translate between 26 languages, with support for more on the way. When we tried the mode at CES, we found it to be slow and stilted, which could cause complications for more complex translations.
Google Assistant will soon be able to act as an interpreter, working as a go-between for natural conversations between initially 27 languages. Think of it as your own personal translator in your pocket. It's a pretty neat addition to the increasingly useful Google Assistant and will be rolling out over the next few weeks but I got a chance to try it out at CES in Las Vegas this week. You jump into interpretation mode by asking Google, say, "Hey Google, be my French translator." When I did that, the Google HomeHub smart display at a cafe Google had set up woke up and waited for my first words.
The interpreters' case stems from a series of disputes between the interpreters and SOSi dating back to 2015, when the company was first awarded the Justice Department contract and offered some longtime interpreters a wage of $35 an hour -- significantly lower than what they had previously earned. That didn't include payment for time spent traveling between assignments or waiting in line at courthouses, compensation for parking or other work-related expenses, or any minimum guarantee of hours.
Four Afghan interpreters, who worked for the British army in Afghanistan and are currently in hiding after receiving death threats from the Taliban, have pleaded once again to the UK to grant them asylum. All four were denied asylum in the UK because of a policy that restricts relocation for Afghans who worked in southern Helmand province, scene of some of the fiercest fighting in the country, between 2011 and 2012. The men, who were awarded certificates of commendations and medals for their work, told Al Jazeera last week they served with the British army for several years in Helmand, but before the blocked out timeframe that the policy mentions. The policy was introduced by Prime Minister Theresa May when she was home secretary. I'm sure that if they catch me, they will kill me," said one interpreter, who refused to give his name for fear of reprisal. "We have evidence of many interpreters who were killed.