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Microsoft Translator Becomes AI-Powered & Adds Offline Features

February 18, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

Many people rely on translation apps on a daily basis. Thanks to smartphones, smartwatches and these apps, people who don’t speak a language can practically live among those who speak it with minimal trouble, reading signs and translating speech both ways and on the fly. All of the globetrotters and go-getters out there are probably well aware that Google Translate is not the only game in town when it comes to multilingual communication. One such app is Microsoft Translator. Along with the many features it already boasts, an update today, along with incremental language updates happening over the next few months, will help to make the app more feasible for those who don’t always have an internet connection.

The new update allows Android users to download offline language packs that work via deep neural networks, or deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to bring offline translations as close as possible to matching online translations. The deep neural network allows for real-time analysis of data put into the app, helping with things like inflection and grammar considerations. The deep learning research that resulted in this breakthrough has also powered other projects within Microsoft such as Twins or Not, Mimicker and What-Dog. This deep-learning based translation is also used with Bing and Skype to bring seamless translation and allow virtual international borders to be crossed with minimal difficulty.

Offline translation packs currently available for Android include Chinese Simplified, Italian, Russian, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Portuguese and Vietnamese. Microsoft stated that more language packs are on the way and they plan to keep users posted via Twitter updates. The normal stable of languages is still available for online use. In addition, the iOS version got a feature that’s been in the Windows and Windows Phone versions of the app since 2010, being image translation. A user can translate what’s in their viewfinder, or translate a downloaded image. Translations happen in real-time, allowing users to navigate foreign lands by reading signs, letters and bulletin boards with no issue. No timeline was stated for this feature to come to Android, but it’s assumed that it will make its way over eventually. Hit up the source link to view the full announcement from Microsoft.