Next time you want to have a conversation with someone who speaks a different language, you might be able to do it using just your phone.
Google started rolling out Interpreter Mode to Google Assistant on iOS and Android devices today. The feature allows you to have a regular conversation with someone who speaks another language, and have the app translate what you both are saying in real time. Since it’s baked into Assistant, you also don’t need to have Translate or another app installed on your phone.
To use the feature, you can say “Hey Google, be my German/French/Italian translator” or “Hey Google, help me speak Japanese” and your phone (when it has the feature) will launch Google Translate and start listening to your conversation.
Interpreter mode is currently available for the following languages:
Google has been test-driving this particular feature at the concierge and front desks of a few hotels like Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and the Hyatt Regency at the San Francisco Airport and via Google Home devices and Smart Displays.
It’s an experience similar to the “Conversation” feature already available within Google Translate, but a little more seamless.
As a regular user of that conversation feature, I’ll also point out that in order for it to work successfully you’ll want to try to have those conversations in places that are quiet as possible and use simple language whenever you can.
If you’ve ever used any AI transcription tool, you’ll understand that it has its limitations. A computer, not a human, is handling those translations. The easier you make it for the computer, the better job it’s going to do with your translation. Talking fast, using complicated language, or talking somewhere with a lot of background noise will get you less than stellar results.
Limitations inside, this can make the process of ordering at restaurants or figuring out what to do after you miss that train infinitely easier.