Today we are announcing two new features for the Microsoft Translator app for iOS, making it the most comprehensive free translation solution for iPhone, iPad and iPod users. In addition to text, conversation and image translation already available, we are adding support for offline (i.e. not connected to the Internet) and webpage translation.
Until now, iPhone users needed an Internet connection if they wanted to translate on their mobile devices. Now, by downloading the Microsoft Translator app and the needed offline language packs, iOS users can get near online-quality translations even when they are not connected to the Internet. This means no expensive roaming charges or not being able to communicate when a data connection is spotty or unavailable.
The new offline language packs use the same Deep Neural Network technology we recently introduced in the Microsoft Translator app for Android. Deep Neural Networks, also known as Deep Learning, are a state-of-the-art machine learning technology that have been used for almost a year by the Microsoft Translator online cloud service to deliver high-quality translations to Microsoft Translator apps and Bing.com/translator. They are also used to power the speech translation technology in the new speech translation API and Skype Translator.
Deep Neural nets allowed Microsoft Translator to be the first translation service to deliver online-quality* translations when downloadable language packs were added to the Android app in February 2016. Now available for iOS users as well, they provide the highest-quality offline translation available on the market.
In conjunction with this release, we are also adding 34 new languages to the list of offline languages supported by Microsoft Translator. Language packs can now be downloaded for all of the following languages. You can always view up-to-date language lists at www.microsoft.com/translator/languages.aspx.
In addition to the new downloadable offline language packs, this update to the Microsoft Translator app for iOS includes a new Safari extension which lets users translate web pages within their Safari browser. After you have turned your extension on, whenever you find yourself on a webpage in a language you don’t understand, just click on “Microsoft Translator” from your list of available extensions and it will be translated automatically.
Thanks to these new offline and Safari extension features users now have access to an unprecedented breadth of support for all their translations needs.
For instance, next time you travel, you can use the Microsoft Translator to:
- Get from the airport or a conference to your hotel by pinning preplanned translations to your favorites.
- Respond to something you didn’t plan ahead for by getting quick translations of short phrases by typing or speaking into your phone. You can also speak the phrase into your Apple Watch if your phone is in your pocket or purse.
- Translate instant messages, texts and other content by simply copy-pasting it from and to the Translator app.
- Translate signs and restaurant menus with the image translation feature. This also works with pictures you receive by email or save from online sites or social media posts.
- Download the new offline language packs so you’ll be sure to be able to translate text and images if you don’t have an internet connection.
- Use the text to speech feature to let the app do the talking and ensure you have the right pronunciation.
- Use the conversation feature to engage in natural conversations to find out the best local restaurants from the concierge, a cab driver, or maybe just someone you happen to meet.
- View that restaurant’s website in your own language before you visit using the new Safari extension
* Our standard tests have shown the quality of our offline language packs are comparable to the translations you get when connected to the Internet. 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.