Microsoft today announced that its Microsoft Translator app for iOS devices can now translate text and images from one language to another even when you’re offline.
The app already supported this functionality on Android, and the competing Google Translate for Android could work offline, too. But in this case, Microsoft has beat Google to the punch — Google Translate currently works offline only on Android.
“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 Microsoft Translator team wrote in a blog post.
Like other Microsoft services — such as Skype Translator — the translation technology relies on a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning. The approach entails training artificial neural networks on lots of data — text snippets, for instance — and then getting them to take a guess about new data.
Automatic speech translation does not work offline in this update.
This app update also comes with a Safari extension that lets you translate a website viewed in Safari from one language to another.
Microsoft Translator supports the following languages: Arabic, Bosnian (Latin), Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong Daw, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kiswahili, Klingon, Klingon (plqaD), Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Queretaro Otomi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic), Serbian (Latin), Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, and — drum roll, please — Yucatec Maya.