Google Translate app for Android is getting a new live transcription feature, using which people without a common language of conversation can get a live transcription of a foreign language, in a language of their own choosing. The feature is being rolled out in phases, and is being made available in Hindi and seven other languages, including English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai. To get the new feature, users can either download the Google Translate app from the Play Store on their Android devices, or update their existing app over the next few days.
To use the live transcription feature, users will need to tap on the Transcribe tap on Google Translate's main screen. This opens up the transcription interface, from which they can choose the primary language in which the speech is being given, and the target language in which they want the transcription in. Once languages are selected, users can tap on the microphone button to start transcribing. While transcribing, tapping on the microphone button gives the option to either pause it, or restart the transcription from scratch.
Google Translate also has a 'Conversations' feature, which works for two-way transcription in different languages. The new feature can hence be particularly useful during a foreign language conference, or even while talking to someone without having a common language in between, thereby removing the need for a human translator in between. Google Translate's product manager, Sami Iqram, says that the transscription feature would work best in a "quiet environment with one person speaking at a time".
Google has been working on natural language processing for a while, and at previous versions of Google I/O, the company has already demoed examples of its work on closed caption and real-time translation and transcription. Going forward, Google will likely add support for multiple other languages in a bid to expand the transcription programme.