Microsoft Translator Uses AI to Break Language Barriers on Smartphones

19 Abril, 2018, 00:54 | Author: Misty Newman
  • Microsoft Translator now includes AI-powered translations for offline users as well

Today, in a major announcement, the company has revealed that its Translator app for Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire now includes a new capability that allows end-users and third-party app developers to download free AI-powered offline translation packs. In addition, through the new Translator app local feature preview, Android developers will be able to quickly and easily integrate online and offline AI text translations into their apps.

Travelers who rely on Microsoft Translator's offline mode when they venture into unfamiliar territory can rest a little easier. In the latter part of 2017, this capability was made available on specific Android phones equipped with a dedicated AI chip. The tech giant considers this a significant milestone in the road to running AI-powered tools near the source of the data without using the computing power of the cloud - an ability also referred to as "edge computing".

What's interesting about this is that Microsoft is able to do this on virtually any modern phone and that there is no need for a custom AI chip in them. "The gap between the neural offline translation and the previous translation quality with our older models is huge", said Menezes - and he wasn't shy to compare the quality of Microsoft's translation services to Google's. Support for Windows devices is also coming at some point, though no ETA was given today. A complete list of the languages in which these packs are now available can be viewed here.

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Arul Menezes, Machine Translation Partner Research manager at Microsoft, told eWEEK that his group "figured out how we can run neural machine translation without specialized hardware". With the power of new NMT offline language packs, developers can allow users to get access to NMT powered translation without an Internet connection. If Internet connectivity isn't available, the Microsoft Translator app will use the local NMT offline language packs to deliver this translation back to their app.

Users of the newly-updated Translator app, available for Android and hitting iOS devices by April 21, can now download AI-enabled translation packs, a feature that was previously available to a just a couple of smartphones from Chinese device maker Huawei. More information regarding this feature is available in its GitHub documentation.

Furthermore, the new Translator Local Feature is now available in preview for Android developers.

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