Artificial Intelligence

Google AI makes international business communication easier with offline translation

Google recently announced offline neural machine translations in its Translate app, featuring a whopping 59 languages.

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. Instead, NMT translates full sentences, taking into account context and producing a smoother translation. 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. Between communicating with other people, conducting foreign business meetings, or simply getting around, Google Translate can be there every step of the way—with or without connectivity. Additionally, each language only takes up 35-45MB of room, the post noted, leaving plenty of storage on your device.

SEE: Artificial intelligence: Trends, obstacles, and potential wins (Tech Pro Research)

Google introduced NMT two years ago; however, this technology was only available in the online version of Google Translate, the post said. NMT was first offered in only eight languages, but the current offline NMT function is able to translate 59 languages. Bringing NMT offline and on-device, Google creates the opportunity for easier global communication and interaction between people.

The 59 languages Google Translate supports offline are as follows: Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian, Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jannada, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Welsh.

As further pointed out in the post, the offline translation are only possible due to improvements in on-device artificial intelligence (AI). As these technologies continue to improve, it could lead to even more high-level functionality brought offline.

To initiate NMT offline translations, open your app on iPhone or Android. If you've used the app previously, a banner will appear that will take you to the correct page to update offline files. If you're new to the app, go to offline translation settings and click the arrow next to the language package you want to download. You're all set.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • Google has announced an offline neural machine translation (NMT) capability for its Google Translate application on iOS and Android.
  • Business professionals can communicate more effectively on international trips with NMT, whether or not they have access to Wi-Fi or cellular service.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/metamorworks

About Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is a Multiplatform Reporter for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.

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