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Google Translate gets smarter offline with on-device AI processing

13 June 2018

You can access the NMT offline translations by going to the offline translation settings on the Translate app, and tapping the arrow next to the language name to download the package.

On Tuesday, Google announced it's upgrading its own translation app specifically for offline use by incorporating previously online-only neural machine translation (NMT) technology. Like most machine-learning based systems they're partly magic, but in essence, they work by breaking out the act of translation to a contextual level-operating at the larger scale of phrases and sentences than mere words-then shuffling the result around for improved readability. When available, users that already use offline translations will see a banner on the home screen to update existing files. According to Google Translate Product Manager Julie Cattiau, the technology takes a nuanced approach by leveraging artificial intelligence to take a whole sentence into context instead of translating it piece-by-piece, making the translations better. Google says the new capabilities are ideal for avid travelers and people in places without internet connections. "This makes translated paragraphs and articles a lot smoother and easier to read". The end result should be offline translations that are more accurate and almost on par with the quality users expect when an internet connection is available. Each language set is between 35MB and 45MB, so downloading them won't take up too much storage space on your phone. Even though the result is not quite as good as the online model, it is close enough to help you get by.

The update is being rolled out in a total of 59 languages, and is available on both Android and iOS platforms.

Google Translate gets smarter offline with on-device AI processing