Google Translate just got a lot smarter

Google Translate just got a lot smarter 0
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Google says its Translate app now spits back more natural translations.

Photo by Google

World travelers, language nerds and everyone in between, you're in luck.

Google said Tuesday that it has vastly improved its Google Translate app, available on phones and the web.

The search giant said it's now incorporating "neural machine translation" into the software, which translates whole sentences at a time, instead of breaking the text down to smaller chunks and translating those pieces.

That means translations come out more natural, with better syntax and grammar.

"It has improved more in one single leap than in 10 years combined," said Barak Turovsky, the product lead for Google Translate, during a press event at Google's San Francisco office.

The new translation system is coming to eight of the 103 languages supported by the app. They are English and French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish. Google says those eight represent 35 percent of all translations done on the service.

Google has bet on artificial intelligence and machine learning as the future of the company. Last month, the company unveiled several new consumer devices that feature a digital helper Google calls "the assistant," similar to Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa. But Google bills it as the natural evolution of its iconic search box, drawing on the reams of data Google knows about you. Instead of typing a search query into a text box at your desktop computer, you'll speak commands to your phone, watch or smart home hub.

When Google CEO Sundar Pichai first introduced the concept of the assistant in May, he said it was the cornerstone of Google's "journey" to becoming an "AI-first" company.

The search giant isn't the only Silicon Valley giant that has made big investments in machine learning recently. Earlier this year, Facebook started an Applied Machine Learning division, where it works on technology like photo and audio recognition.


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