Today, we are announcing two new features for our Microsoft Translator apps for iOS and Android: a new AI powered on-device translation engine available for Android, and a new image translation feature for iOS that uses state-of-the-art Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology from Microsoft.
New Deep Neural Network-Powered Offline Language Packs for Android
Since we launched the Microsoft Translator app for Android last August, one of the key user requests was to support offline translations for situations where Internet access was unavailable or cost prohibitive, such as with international roaming. In adding this request, we wanted to ensure the level of quality for offline translations was as close as possible to that of our online translations.
We are pleased to introduce today the world’s first Deep Neural Network-powered offline engine, available in the Microsoft Translator app for Android. By downloading free offline packs, users can get near online-quality translations, even when they are not connected to the Internet.
Deep Neural Networks, also known as Deep Learning, is a state-of-the-art Machine Learning technology that has been in use for almost a year by the popular Microsoft Translator cloud service to deliver high-quality translations to the many experiences that it powers — Microsoft Translator apps, Skype Translator and Bing.com/translator. By bringing this technology to offline translations on your mobile device, you will have access to the highest-quality offline translation provided. Our standard tests* have shown that it is comparable to the translations you get when connected to the Internet, and significantly better than any offline translation experiences available previously.
This break-through development is tied to broader research within Microsoft around Deep Learning that, in addition to the Microsoft Translator API, has led to the Project Oxford APIs whose AI capabilities have been demonstrated via What-Dog (Fetch), How-Old, TwinsOrNot, Mimicker, and MyMoustache.net.
Offline packs for Android are currently available in the following languages, with more on their way soon. Follow us on Twitter to hear about new languages as they become available.
Not using Google Play as your app store?
Want to install Microsoft Translator on your Kindle Fire?
Find alternative download instructions here.
New Image Translation Feature for iPhone
For our iPhone users we are introducing a new image translation feature (what we geeks call OCR or Optical Character Recognition). This feature lets you translate text from your camera roll or saved pictures. Rather than typing the text or speaking aloud, you can translate pictures from your phone with the translation appearing in an overlay above the existing text in the picture.
Translation from your camera roll is great for translating signs, menus, and flyers; and translation of saved images is perfect for images from emails, the Internet, and social media. Image translation has been available for the Translator apps for Windows and Windows Phone since 2010, and is now available for the iOS app which was released in August 2015.
The new image feature will be available in the following languages:
In addition to these new capabilities, the apps also have a full suite of features to give you instant translation in the palm of your hand. You can translate voice and text in all of Microsoft Translator’s 50+ supported languages.
You can even conduct full translated in-person conversations with the app’s conversation translation feature. This conversation translation feature uses the same Microsoft Translator translation engine that powers Skype Translator. This feature can be used on just your phone, or with your Apple or Android watch for an even more natural experience.
These offline packs are being made available today on Android, and OCR capabilities only on iPhone. Soon we will add each of them to the other platform as well — to allow all of the apps (Android, iPhone and Windows) to translate offline and have image recognition/translation capabilities.
If you have comments, questions, or suggestions about the current versions of our apps for iOS and Android, please let us know at http://microsofttranslator.uservoice.com. We’ll use your feedback to ensure these translation services keep improving.
*Calculated using BLEU scores, and tested against legacy offline language packs for Microsoft Translator for Windows and competitor’s current solutions. Actual translation quality will vary by language and topic.