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Domo arigato, Mr Roboto
October 13, 2011 6:55 PM   Subscribe

Google has released a new version of Translate, for Android. It now features Conversation Mode.
posted by gilrain (48 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not ready to live in the future yet.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:01 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wasn't some company charging exorbitant amounts of money for an app that did this just last year?
posted by dunkadunc at 7:03 PM on October 13, 2011


Ooooooo
posted by odinsdream at 7:04 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Think about what this means for the future. Vast numbers of people will be able to converse with one another, despite not speaking one another's languages.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:06 PM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Az én légpárnás tele van angolna.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:08 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Travel Of The Future: Short simple sentences spoken by robots.
posted by The Whelk at 7:09 PM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I really want to feed it that pseudoenglish video in the thread below this and see what it spits out.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:10 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know this isn't really "just the start" because people have been working on this in some way for a whilr, but relatively it is "the start" and that just makes the future we watch in sci-fi not seem imaginative enough sometime
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:13 PM on October 13, 2011


I prefer the European solution : Offer all the clever students a year long paid holiday studying abroad. It's called the Erasmus program.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:14 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I will do my best to teach them about life and what it's worth. I just hope that I can keep them from destroying the Earth.
posted by NoraReed at 7:16 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to trying this out next time I visit Britain.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:20 PM on October 13, 2011 [15 favorites]


1. Seems like this is just the existing Google Translate with an additional "switch languages" button.

2. I wonder how much that conversation cost. International roaming isn't cheap.
posted by meowzilla at 7:20 PM on October 13, 2011


Very interesting. I'll have to install this and try it out.
posted by kafziel at 7:23 PM on October 13, 2011


I don't care how much people dis Google, now that Steve is gone, I'm thinking that the "G" is my next tech god.
posted by HuronBob at 7:27 PM on October 13, 2011


And in related news, the new iPhone OS will now run multiple apps, read aloud to you, AND do copy and paste!
posted by Dr. Fetish at 7:29 PM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would like a Babel fish. World needs Vogon poetry, stat.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:35 PM on October 13, 2011


Will have to try it. Already wishing for everything to be in Tom Baker's voice.
posted by juiceCake at 7:38 PM on October 13, 2011


I just downloaded it and tried it out. It seems to work pretty well but when I threw a couple different names and cities in there it seemed to blend those into the next word in the sentence.
posted by lilkeith07 at 7:38 PM on October 13, 2011


i just downloaded this... it is fantastic... it gives the option of entering via keyboard or voice, and the voice recognition is very good. The app is also very fast...

I'm thinking someone is going to drop off that jet pack at my front door tomorrow, 'cuz the future is here!
posted by HuronBob at 7:39 PM on October 13, 2011


The humble beginnings of the Universal Translator...That little earpiece Uhura had was actually just a bluetooth attached to the ship's cellphone.
posted by FireballForever at 7:43 PM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Next update: Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.
posted by emeiji at 7:44 PM on October 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


mccarty.tim: "I'm not ready to live in the future yet."

I want my flying car.
posted by MrLint at 7:50 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much that conversation cost. International roaming isn't cheap.

Heh? It's an app. They're not calling anywhere. You don't have to be careful about playing Angry Birds away from home.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:52 PM on October 13, 2011


I wonder how much that conversation cost. International roaming isn't cheap.

Seriously! Have you flown recently? Airfare has gone through the roof!
posted by Big_B at 8:04 PM on October 13, 2011


They're not calling anywhere.

Data roaming is much, much worse. I doubt all that language data gets downloaded into the phone. If you could get it to run over wi-fi, you're fine.
posted by gimonca at 8:06 PM on October 13, 2011


This isn't new. I used conversation mode like, 6 months ago on my phone. There's lots more languages now though...

The issue I had was that the woman I was trying to speak with didn't understand that she needed to slow down and not talk for 3 minutes. She expected the damn thing to translate novels.
posted by toekneebullard at 8:08 PM on October 13, 2011


It's an app. They're not calling anywhere.

I doubt the translation is happening on the phone. It's a gateway to the Google translation services.
posted by bonehead at 8:09 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh hell, that must be the case. Then yeah, that could be $$.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:15 PM on October 13, 2011


Not so sure about the example 'conversation' they gave. If you're standing on some random street corner in Tokyo, and ask somebody where you can get a bus 'to the airport', the little bus at the 'other side of the park' isn't going to help you much ...
posted by woodblock100 at 8:24 PM on October 13, 2011


Yeah it's awkward with the start/stop button, have to learn new conversation protocols on when to talk.
posted by stbalbach at 8:27 PM on October 13, 2011


And in related news, the new iPhone OS will now run multiple apps, read aloud to you, AND do copy and paste!

The current Google Translate App for iPhone can translate spoken text. I don't see why they wouldn't add this enhancement to the next update.
posted by Gary at 8:28 PM on October 13, 2011


I'm looking forward to trying this out next time I visit Britain.

Hell, I'll be impressed if it can get me through a night at the pub in Newfoundland.
posted by mannequito at 8:28 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, but will it translate Vogon poetry?
posted by not_on_display at 8:38 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, if I were in Google's marketing department, I'd have hired Shatner to be the guy, and dressed the Japanese woman like a Gorn.
posted by Gorgik at 8:49 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not buying one until it comes in fish form.
posted by chaff at 9:06 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, they removed voice search from the latest Android version of Google Earth.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:22 PM on October 13, 2011


Think about what this means for the future. Vast numbers of people will be able to converse with one another, despite not speaking one another's languages.

I mostly share your enthusiasm. This is great progress in computational linguistics technology, including machine translation, speech recognition, and speech synthesis.

she needed to slow down and not talk for 3 minutes. She expected the damn thing to translate novels.

But conversation it is not.

Human language is staggeringly complex, both in and of itself and how it interfaces with other cognitive systems. It is flexible, ambiguous, and intrinsic to humans and their social instincts. Hence, why I think AI will continue to lag behind in this area. This and physical dexterity.
posted by stroke_count at 9:30 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


They should seamlessly combine it with Linguo so that it takes in what you've said, removes the grammatical errors, and then translates it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:54 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit That Siri Says

It includes a response to "I need to hide a body", which I had hoped would be a link to a certain comment, but it doesn't.
posted by vidur at 10:18 PM on October 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


It includes a response to "I need to hide a body", which I had hoped would be a link to a certain comment, but it doesn't.

I should hope not. That's the worst advice. Who wants to keep evidence around like that? No, Siri would definitely recommend more expedient and intelligent options.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:33 AM on October 14, 2011


I'm looking forward to trying this out next time I visit Britain.

'looking forward' eh? 'trying this out' wat u sayin i'll shank u bludclart
posted by Not Supplied at 12:48 AM on October 14, 2011


One problem is that the foreign language speaking person gets no introduction to what the hell is going on. Those who assume that, because they are talking into a phone, they are actually talking to a human translator at the other end are being pretty rational, IMHO.

The irony is that there is no way on earth that somebody carrying around an all singing/dancing smartphone is not going to know where the station is.
posted by rongorongo at 12:51 AM on October 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hmmm, not so sure I'm interested anymore - since it seems they don't seem to get the whole "platform" thing.
posted by the noob at 3:41 AM on October 14, 2011


I live in Toronto. Our public transit system offers bus information in almost 200 languages. In a city where half of us aren't from here, many of our seniors are not completely fluent in English and need more and more health services. St Michaels Hospital has sheets of transliterated terms like "ache" and "stomach" in many languages so doctors can try to overcome these barriers without being polyglots.

Forget roaming charges. This is useful HERE.
posted by heatherann at 5:32 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rongorongo, my guess is that's why the voice is deliberately slightly robotised--so you know you're talking to a device, not to a person. It's not hard to do better speech-synth than that these days.
posted by Hogshead at 7:16 AM on October 14, 2011


yadda, yadda, we are now living in the future, blah, blah, convergent technologies that are clearly changing the world for the better... whatever.

All I know is that I have several multilingual co-workers, and I am going to irritate the hell out of them experimenting with this.

That alone will make this worth installing.
posted by quin at 8:37 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The app is still in "alpha." As a novice surfer, I can't recall (or maybe haven't noticed) using such a relatively undeveloped product. SO and I have tested the Korean functionality, and it defaults to the highest level of speech. Korean has a punitively hierarchical code of speaking, and Google presumes that you will be exclusively asking royalty and gendarmes for directions. Ordinary folk who are greeted/asked at such a level of speech are often amused and/or confused, but yes it's understandable communication in your pocket.
/End nitpick

Globally this might work, but perhaps it's a good to have awkwardness built in. If unstudied translation was seamless, we'd lose a treasure trove of travel experiences involving body language, intuition and sense of adventure. On the plus side, tourists will be consuming far less unwanted brain and offal.
posted by obscurator at 11:46 AM on October 14, 2011


Why, when I saw the link to shitthatsirisays did I immediately assume that it was a blog of the babblings of that Cruise kid. I think I am officially no longer an Apple fanboy.
posted by nimmpau at 12:09 PM on October 14, 2011


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