Regardless of how many sessions I complete on Duolingo prior to a trip overseas, I blank the minute I step foot into a cab or hotel and need to speak —pointing at addresses and information on my phone, rather than, as they say to toddlers in distress, using my words.
I can’t be the only one, right?
Well, Google is here to save us from future embarrassment. Today, the company announced its “interpreter mode” is now available on “Assistant-enabled Android and iOS devices.” So, you can translate languages in real time right from your phone.
Though today marks the official rollout of the Assistant’s interpreter mode, it’s not quite new. The feature, originally introduced on Google’s Nest Hub (formerly known as the Home Hub) back in January at CES, was piloted at a few hotels in Las Vegas between concierge staff and international hotel guests.
It also works with the Google Home and Google Home Mini. But, if you’re using either of those devices with interpreter mode, you won’t get the added bonus of actually seeing the translations on a display.
But since you can’t carry a Nest Hub or Google smart speaker around while sight-seeing, your phone will have to do the trick. You also don’t have to go through the hassle of downloading yet another app to your phone — interpreter mode is already integrated into the Google Assistant app.
All you have to do is say, “Hey Google, be my Spanish translator” or “Hey Google, help me speak Russian,” and start talking. You, and whoever you’re speaking with, will then be able to see and hear the translation on your phone.
Interpreter mode supports 44 languages, a pretty significant increase from the 27 languages that were available when it launched on the Nest Hub.
Depending on the context of the conversation, the Assistant might even suggest a few Smart Replies to quickly respond for you. That way, you don’t have to worry about botching the pronunciations.
The feature also comes with different communication modes. So rather than projecting your translations via the phone’s speaker, you can instead type back and forth using the keyboard. Or, you can manually select exactly when you want interpreter mode to speak throughout the conversation.
As mentioned before, the feature is currently rolling out to smartphones. So, the next time you’re in a foreign country and think you’ve got the language down pat, you might want to have interpreter mode handy just in case.