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Ever wonder how to pronounce a particularly challenging word? You’re in luck. Google announced that it’s rolling out a tool in mobile Search that allows you to practice pronunciations without leaving the results page. Coinciding with its debut, the tech giant this morning added images to its Search dictionary and translation features intended to help better communicate words’ meanings.
The pronunciation module — which launches in American English today, with Spanish soon to follow — lets you practice saying specific words into your phone’s microphone. You’ll receive feedback on what you can adjust in your pronunciation, if anything.
Google says the speech recognition tech underlying the feature processes spoken words by separating them into individual soundbites, after which it cross-references the given pronunciation with the expected pronunciation. For example, if you’re practicing how to say “asterisk,” it’ll spot mistakes like “rict” instead of “uhsk” in the last audible snippet.
As for the new visuals, which also begin rolling out today in English across all language translations, they accompany translations of words and their definitions to provide additional context. This could be useful, Google says, with words that have multiple meanings like “seal” or words like “avocado” that aren’t commonly used in all dialects or regions. Only nouns are supported initially, but Google plans to expand from there.
“People around the world come to Search to ask questions related to language, like looking up the definition of a word or double checking the pronunciation of a word in another language,” wrote Google Search senior product manager Tal Snir, who added that the features will expand to more languages, accents, and regions in the future. “We hope these new features give you a creative, more effective way to practice, visualize and remember new words.”
Google has invested increasing time and attention in its suite of translation products, which are quite extensive. Just yesterday, the company introduced a module in Maps that speaks the name and addresses of locations in a country’s native language. In July, it unveiled a new feature in the cross-platform Translate app that automatically detects languages, following on the heels of the addition of on-the-spot reading and translation of more than 100 languages in May for Google’s computer vision-powered Google Lens tool. And roughly a year ago, Translate’s static image translation — which lets you select text you’d like translated in an image by dragging your finger across it — got 13 new languages like Arabic, Bengali, and Vietnamese.
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