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Google Releases Translate App For iPhone

It falls short of the Android version but it's still quite useful.

Real Time Conversation With Google Translate
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Real Time Conversation With Google Translate

Google on Tuesday said that Google Translate is now available for iOS devices through Apple's iTunes App Store.

Google Translate has been available as a Web app since August 2008. But it only supports input via text. This is because the HTML5 Device specification, which handles microphone input, is in draft stage and hasn't been widely implemented.

The Google Translate native app, however, does support microphone input and is much more useful as a result. On mobile devices, speech recognition generally offers a better user experience than text entry.

Google Translate for iPhone can handle voice input in 15 languages and can translate a word or phrase into 57 languages. Submitting spoken input to the app is simply a matter of pressing the microphone icon and speaking.

The app will vocalize translated output in any of 23 supported languages, using the same speech synthesis system available through the company's Web-based translation service.

The app also provides a full-screen option. "This way, it's much easier to read the text on the screen, or show the translation to the person you are communicating with," explains Google engineer Wenzhang Zhu in a blog post. "Just tap on the zoom icon to quickly zoom in."

The iOS app however is missing a feature recently added to the Android version of Google Translate: Conversation Mode, a user interface designed to handle a real-time conversation between two speakers of different languages.

In accordance with its focus on the mobile market, Google is continuing to invest in speech recognition and synthesis technology. In December 2010, it acquired speech synthesis company Phonetic Arts, and in January 2011, it acquired speech recognition company SayNow.

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