Google Android’s advertising tag-line of “Be Together, Not the Same” can mean so many things to so many people. One take is that it means Android embraces different hardware, form factors and functionality. We can have our devices big, small, with single core processors or ten core processors. We can have one, two, three or more cameras, and we can have screen resolutions ranging from the quite normal to the eye-bleeding level. Some camps, mostly the headline-reading Apple iPhone fanboys, claim that this diversity leads to fragmentation in the market and they would be quite right, but without understanding what the fragmentation means the implication is that it is a bad thing. Fragmentation is not necessarily a bad thing, indeed it’s often a very good thing (depending on the context). Take for example, language, where we have many different dialects and even languages spoken in many parts of the world. In Europe, many languages have their roots in Latin, which has become fragmented over the centuries. There are significant differences between American English and British English, but a lot can be learned through a better understanding of local and regional dialects and languages.
This brings me right back to Google, where the latest television commercial for Android demonstrates how a device running the operating system may be used to communicate in real-time with somebody speaking a foreign language. To do this, one needs the Google Translate application and either an offline language database or, preferably, a high performance Internet connection. However, Google Translate can also use a camera, QWERTY keyboard, handwriting or the voice in order to translate between languages. Google Translate is a free application and service available for a number of platforms and the advert details how over one hundred billion words are translated each day through the application. This includes Word Lens, which is the fantastic ability to point your smartphone camera at words written in a foreign language and for the application to translate the text into your preferred language. It’s a great trick if somebody has mischieviously put your device into a foreign language and you can’t find how to set the language back to one you can understand!
If you don’t have Google Translate and you are planning an overseas trip, it’s worth a download but if you don’t have roaming data (or you do and it’s very expensive) do consider downloading an offline language pack, which will work almost as well as the Internet connection, before you go. And then you can use your Android device to broaden your horizons!