Google Translate is to offer live translation for conversations and will be able to read road signs in real time.
Google Translate can translate written text in 90 languages, and in a few main languages can read those back out. But the company is planning to update it so that its phone app can offer live translations of speech in real time, reports the New York Times.
Google Translate will also be able to recognise text from images and translate that, allowing the app to be used to read roadsigns and other messages in unknown languages. That is likely being driven by Google’s recent acquisition of Wordlens, an app that had much the same features.
The move is thought to be partly a response to Skype’s technology that allows it to live translate calls.
Skype’s live translation service went into a limited launch last month, but has seen mixed reviews and a relatively small amount of users. But 40,000 people are waiting to use the service, and will be gradually introduced to it as the technology learns from those that are on it already.
Skype’s technology only works to translate Spanish to English and vice versa. But Google offers limited use of other languages, including made up ones like Klingon and Pirate.