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Google today is announcing the release of version 5.0 of its Google Translate service. The release brings a number of enhancements, especially on Android and iOS.
On Android, there’s a new feature called Tap to Translate, which lets users copy text and then tap a new button to get an instant translation in a pop-up box. From there, they can ask for a new translation and then copy and paste that text.
The big benefit here is that there is now “no need to switch apps,” as Google Translate product lead Barak Turovsky put it in a blog post. Oh, and the feature works offline, too.
Speaking of working offline, the Offline Support that arrived on Android in Google Translate in 2013 is now available on iOS.
“Offline Mode is easy to set up: just tap the arrow next to the language name to download the package for that language, and when you’re offline you can still do text translations like normal,” Turovsky wrote. “We now have offline packages for 52 languages — we just added Filipino.” But it’s not the first time some kind of Google translation service for iOS has been available to use offline. In January 2015, Google Translate’s Word Lens functionality — which provides instant translations of text when you hold the camera of a mobile device in front of the text — became available offline. It expanded support from seven languages to 27 in July 2015.
The trick here is to only ship small, carefully chosen language packs to be kept locally on a device. This will allow them to accurately recognize letters, words, and sentences in the app without taking up so much space that they become impractical for real-world use. The modern-day language packs take up 25MB, Turovsky wrote.
The updates come as Microsoft has been enhancing its Translator app on both Android and iOS. Meanwhile, Baidu and Yandex have their own translation apps. Google Translate has had more than 500 million monthly active users since January 2015.
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