Neural machine translations (NMT) in the Google Translate application now works offline on both iPhone and Android, product manager Julie Cattiau announced in a blog post on Tuesday. Prior to this update, translations in the app were phrase-based, meaning sentences would be translated in chunks. The update will roll out in the next few weeks, according to the post. The offline functionality could be useful for international business travelers, especially those who travel to regions with spotty Wi-Fi or poor signal. The NMT functionality could also ease communication due to its more accurate translations.
In 2001, Google started providing a service that could translate eight languages to and from English. It used what was then state-of-the-art commercial machine translation (MT), but the translation quality wasn't very good, and it didn't improve much in those first few years. In 2003, a few Google engineers decided to ramp up the translation quality and tackle more languages. That's when I got involved. I was working as a researcher on DARPA projects looking at a new approach to machine translation--learning from data--which held the promise of much better translation quality.
An illustrated artificial neural network (ANN) (CC BY SA 4.0 LearnDataSci via Wikimedia Commons) The system's'neural network' is advanced, but its abilities are being exaggerated by observers I have a fascination with translation, primarily because I have an interest in languages. I'm what I like to call "an aspiring polyglot," with the implication that I don't have time to practice (and reach complete fluency in) the few foreign languages I have some knowledge of, yet I give myself plenty of time to learn about said languages, how they are all different and by extension how they all work. As a technology- and startups-focused journalist, that makes the evermore popular topic of machine translation (MT) and "translation memory" fascinating, giving me the chance to cover companies like Austrian startup LingoHub (an essential service for apps) or Portuguese startup Unbabel (the next-level stuff they're doing is very cool). I can ask people how they communicate with lovers from other countries and report on developments like Google Translate's upgrade from "phrase-based machine translation" (PMT) with a "neural machine translation" (NMT). "Google Translate invented its own language to help it translate more effectively," wrote UX developer Gil Fewster on Medium, with the bold emphasis his own.
A newly-discovered glitch in Google Translate is causing the online tool to transform gibberish suggestions into doomsday warnings and prophesies about Jesus. The AI that powers Google Translate starts to produce the nonsensical warnings about the end of the world when asked to translate the phrase'dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog' from Hawaiian to English. The nonsense sentence, when translated, throws up references to the doomsday clock and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Once the glitch was discovered, Google Translate fans quickly flooded social media with variations on the phrase, mocking the bizarre results thrown-up by the AI. Google Translate has been malfunctioning recently, spouting prophetic verses from gibberish.
Microsoft today announced that its Microsoft Translator app for iOS devices can now translate text and images from one language to another even when you're offline. The app already supported this functionality on Android, and the competing Google Translate for Android could work offline, too. But in this case, Microsoft has beat Google to the punch -- Google Translate currently works offline only on Android. "Until now, iPhone users needed an Internet connection if they wanted to translate on their mobile devices. Now, by downloading the Microsoft Translator app and the needed offline language packs, iOS users can get near online-quality translations even when they are not connected to the Internet.