Phrase books and botched pronunciations may soon be a thing of the past--well, for smartphone users, anyway. Google Translate for Android makes it easier for world travelers to ask for directions in foreign lands without embarrassing themselves or creating an international incident.
Translate's Conversation Mode, which Google unveiled in January, allows Android users to translate speech between languages in real time.
The initial version supported only two languages, English and Spanish. But the new and improved edition is a multilingual powerhouse that works with 12 additional languages, including French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Czech, Turkish, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Korean, and Polish.
The video shows how Conversation Mode works.
Google calls Conversation Mode an "experimental feature," which suggests the speech-to-speech translations are far from perfect. No surprise there, actually, as voice recognition technology is notoriously tricky.
Even Apple, which seldom ships features before they're finely polished, has called the new Siri voice-control tool in its iPhone 4S "beta" software, a label that tells users to dampen their expectations a bit.
Here's MacWorld editorial director Jason Snell having a meaningful conversation with Siri.