The beta preview of Microsoft Translator has now been updated to include optimized neural network-based translation tools without the need for a dedicated A.I. chip. That's according to an official announcement from Microsoft and means that both online and offline users can get better translations via A.I. Microsoft says the development of its offline-capable A.I. tool took around two years to complete, culminating in neural machine translation (NMT) packs to take the place of the usual offline language packs. The packets are around half the size of their previous offline counterparts and work around 23-percent better, according to the company. It bears repeating, however, that the new features are still only part of Microsoft's beta Preview program for the Translator app with around a 90-day wait expected before it releases to the general user base.
For now, those are being made available in the "most popular" languages and the company plans to spread them to every pack over time through subsequent updates. Although better translations and smaller size are guaranteed to be a good thing for users of the Microsoft Translator itself, this is also great news for developers. Thanks to the company's decision to incorporate the change into a Translator app local feature preview, developers can use the tool to include the same functionality into their own apps. Of course, it can also be used via the cloud. That means providing real-time A.I.-based translations in any app that takes advantage of the new NMT packs, without taking up too much more space.
In the meantime, Microsoft Translator itself continues to function as normal and is as feature-rich as ever. That means that text can still be translated offline via more traditional offline language packages, including text from pictures and screenshots. Users will also still be able to have a conversation across a single device in two different languages or in a group via integrated discussion tools when the app is installed on multiple devices. At the last count, that works across more than 60 distinct languages and for both written and spoken words. Moreover, the functionality still works regardless of whether the translations are done via a smartphone or through one of the many available Wear OS smartwatches. So anybody who wants a more comprehensive translation tool will probably want to download it now by referring to the banner below to get in on the new features as soon as they're released globally.