One of the most useful tools when you don’t know a language is Google Translate , and it is possible that, despite being so well known, knowing how to use it like a professional today you will discover some other function that will be comfortable for you.
On the one hand , Google Translate is one of the best travel companions that we can have in our pocket to know what everything we want to translate means, but also when we work with texts in a language that we do not master.
Although it has competitors like Microsoft Translate , Google’s service is generally the most popular. It has two main versions, the translation from the web and the mobile application , apart from the fact that if we ask Google Assistant for a term in another language, it will also use Translator as a source.
The basics of Google Translate
We are talking about a service that supports 116 different languages , including Galician, Basque and Catalan . It even translates into Esperanto, the synthetic language that sought to replace English as the lingua franca, although it never became popular.
Google Translate does not translate based on the meaning of the text or its grammar , its algorithm at no time aspires to understand the meaning of the words. The focus is on statistics, matching millions of texts in various languages to find the most reliable matches.
In fact, one of the sources used are the official documents of the UN, which, being published in several languages and being numerous, represent a very valuable reference.
Initially, English was used as a bridge language , since no direct translations were made between all of them. For example, to translate from Dutch to Nepali, you go through English first, with the consequent drop in quality.
Little by little, artificial intelligence has generated correspondences between languages that do not require the use of English as an intermediate step. The idea is to reduce errors due to multiple meanings of words, and AI-based direct translation between languages is gradually spreading within the service.
Google Translate in its web version
The most common is to use Translator in the box that appears next to the results of the Google search engine. It is shown when entering “Google Translator”, but also if we perform a search of the type “word + translation” (for example, when searching for “house translation”).
It is possible to paste up to 5,000 characters of text , and choose the languages. In principle, artificial intelligence detects what the original language is, and translates the text to the one we use in the system (or the last one we translated), but it can be changed.
Actually, the most complete version is on its own domain:
Website: Google Translate
More complete results appear here, with examples that add context, and we have the possibility of translating Office documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), plain text or PDF and others, supporting the following extensions: .doc, .docx, . odf, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx, .ps, .rtf, .txt, .xls and .xlsx.
Google Translate in the mobile app
Google Translator has an application for Android and iOS with all the functions of the web version, and others aimed at using it in everyday situations, where we tend to be in a hurry and want immediate and effortless results.
To translate texts without having to transcribe them on our smartphone, the simplest thing is to use the phone’s camera through the Google Translator mobile application or take a photo .
It is a function that we also have in Google Lens , and in fact both share technology. Lens has a highly advanced character recognition system using artificial intelligence, and Translator takes care of looking up the meaning in our language.
To do this, we must click on the ” Camera ” option within the app and at the bottom on “Snapshot” so that, when taking the picture, the text in the language we have previously chosen is automatically detected.
The result is very eye-catching, because through augmented reality the translated text is shown with a font similar to the original , although the quality of the translation is not always as expected:
The other option is to take a snapshot and hand select the text we want it to detect for translation. It should be noted that Google Translate will only detect typographic fonts and not handwriting from the photograph.
If we want it to translate a handwritten text for us, we can test if it recognizes our calligraphy on the touch screen , although, however perfect it may be, sometimes it is not able to understand the handwriting.
To write by hand and not through the traditional keyboard, we must choose the “ Handwriting ” option in the main menu.
By choosing this mode, the classic keyboard will be directly replaced by a panel where we can write what we want with our fingers and the translator will understand most of the words that we write, but not all.
Knowing multiple languages is wonderful, but in most cases it is almost impossible to have a translator who acts as an interpreter in both languages so that two people who do not share a language understand each other when conversing .
Now, a new feature of Google Translate was the inclusion of voice translation . There are two different modes focused on this function, called “Conversation” and “Voice”:
In the “Conversation” section, we can choose two languages , and translations will be made out loud, pressing each time each person finishes their sentence and changes language:
Another possibility is the automatic mode , through which both people can speak at the same time and the Translator will perform the translations simultaneously.
Although it is a novel function, it does not always obtain a meaning of the words that corresponds to the topic at hand, so the possibility of writing it is still more efficient.
Devices like the Travis Touch serve as an electronic interpreter, although the result is similar to using the Google Translate mobile app. The main difference is that, by using a stand-alone gadget, we will not quickly drain the battery of the smartphone.
We can also carry out the process manually, in such a way that we click on the “ Voice ” section and collect the audio in a single language to translate it at that very moment.
This last system has the variant of Google Instant Transcription , a service that converts voice and even some everyday sounds to text. It does not translate between languages, but it is useful if we need to transcribe certain content, or for people with hearing difficulties.
Google Translate Chrome Extension
An extra option would be to install Google Translate as an extension for the Chrome browser , which will allow us to quickly know the meaning of the words and phrases selected with the cursor.
The browser extension is not widely used because Chrome itself integrates a translation function , which it offers us when entering a website in another language.
It is usually practical, because in this way we do not need to use a specific tool, and it is based on the same Google Translate algorithms. Of course, the result depends a lot on the language and the type of language (informal, technical, journalistic, etc.) used on the web page.
Google Translator is a tool that needs an Internet connection to enjoy all its possibilities , although there is also the option of downloading different dictionaries locally in order to carry out offline translations.
It should be noted that these offline translations are often less accurate than when the device is connected to the Internet.
In conclusion, Google Translate is a really useful service , which is far from perfect, but it is advancing very fast thanks to improvements in machine learning algorithms and other artificial intelligence techniques.