Google’s online translations have been powered by neural machine translation (NMT) since 2016, and today the company is rolling out its neural net-driven approach to more accurate, natural-sounding translations for Google Translate iOS and Android app users to carry out translations offline in 59 languages.
Offline NMT was made by the Translate team in conjunction with the Google Brain team using TensorFlow, Google product manager Julie Cattiau told VentureBeat in a phone interview. Unlike for other Google apps, 95 percent of Google Translate’s user base is outside the United States, in countries like India, Brazil, and Indonesia, Cattiau said.
“So we hear a lot from our users that it’s great to have high quality online, but a lot of them are either unable to access an internet connection or they would prefer to save on their data plan. So we made it a priority over the past year and a half to basically squeeze our NMT models onto people’s devices,” she said.
Rather than the previous machine learning approach that provided interpretation by scanning phrases of a sentence, offline translations with NMT analyze entire chunks of text at once, allowing for more natural-sounding, grammatically sound, context-aware translations.
When connected to the internet, Conversations mode in the Google Translate app can provide on-the-spot voice translation. However, NMT offline translation launches today with text-only translation; it does not extend to features in the Translate app that allow you to interpret the menu you take a picture of or translate people’s voices. Conversation mode in Pixel…