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Google Translate for Android gets a makeover

Jan 13, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Google has released an upgrade to its Google Translate for Android app, incorporating a natural-language “conversation mode.” Meanwhile, the company's YouTube subsidiary partnered with Vevo to make music videos available free via the YouTube 2.0 Android app, and Google acquired eBook Technologies to bolster its Android-compatible eBookstore service.

On Jan. 12 Google revised its Google Translate for Android application to make it more accessible for users looking to translate content on the fly using Google's cloud-computing system.

Google launched Translate for Android last year. The service helps Android phone owners translate content into 53 different languages via text, and 15 languages via spoken translation, on Android handsets. The service is used daily in more than 150 countries outside the United States, says Google.

Revised Google Translate for Android, showing "Conversation Mode" in action

Translate for Android now employs "Conversation Mode," a new interface within Google Translate that allows users to communicate "fluidly with a nearby person in another language," says the company.

Conversation Mode lets users press the microphone icon and start speaking. Google Translate then provides a translation of their speech and reads it out loud. The person with whom the user is conversing can then respond in their language, which will be spoken back to the conversation-starter in their language.

Right now, Conversation Mode will only let users translate content between English and Spanish. But even when it expands to include support for additional languages, it will face a stiff challenge in cutting through the clutter of regional accents, background noise, and rapid speech to provide clear speech translation.

Providing universal translation to mobile devices on the fly is no mean feat. Google executives, including CEO Eric Schmidt and vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra, often cite Google Translate as a shining example of Google's cloud-computing infrastructure in action.  But others, such as ReadWriteWeb, describe the service as a gimmick.

Google Translate for Android, available for handsets running Android 2.1 and later from the Android Market, also boasts better dropdown boxes to help users pick languages. Also new is an improved input box and cleaner icons and layout.

YouTube Android app pairs mobile ads, Vevo music

On Jan. 12, Google's YouTube subsidiary announced that it was making Vevo's online video library accessible via the YouTube 2.0 app for Android. The service supports Android 2.2 or later.

The Vevo library service lets users access Vevo's videos, including content by Lady Gaga and U2, free of charge. To pay the toll, YouTube is inserting pre-roll ads into "tens of thousands of YouTube partner videos" served on the YouTube 2.0 app for Android.

YouTube Mobile Product Manager Andrey Doronichev called the move "our largest step to mobile monetization to date." (For more information, see the full story at our sister publication eWEEK.

Google buys eBook Technologies to boost eBookstore

Google has acquired eBook Technologies, which provides a complete electronic reading platform, from e-reader devices to an online bookstore and content distribution system. The technology should ensure that Google's own eBookstore titles are accessible via any mobile device.

Google eBookstore

The newly acquired firm offers a complete electronic book service, including support for electronic reading devices with their associated user interface technology. It also provides an "Online Bookshelf," as well as a web-based content sales and delivery system.

In addition, eBook Technologies offers ebook content conversion and publication tools. These include tools that let consumers purchase or access content "anywhere and at any time," says the company.(For more information, see the full story at our sister publication eWEEK.)

Clint Boulton is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.

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