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Google’s Interpreter mode now available on mobile devices…but is it any good?

Medical Pharmaceutical Translations • Dec 23, 2019 12:00:00 AM

On December 12, Google made Interpreter mode available for any iOS or Android device that has Google Assistant. The feature, which allows speakers to say something in their native language and then have it translated into their conversation partner’s language, was already available on Google Home and similar stationary devices. Now, you can take this little interpreter with you wherever you go.

Having a simple way to translate real-time conversations in 44 languages may seem like a dream, but does Google’s Interpreter mode live up to the hype?

Despite its wide coverage in the press, there aren’t many non-sponsored Interpreter mode reviews. This video from Evening Standard shows Interpreter mode working for a number of different languages, with both native and non-native speakers, which is quite impressive. In this video, a reporter uses the device to communicate with a French pastry chef, with excellent overall results.

One thing that could be considered a downside is that the interpreter is a little bit slower than you might expect. After all, as this article points out, Interpreter mode isn’t exactly translation in real time; there’s a bit of a lag.

Still, for many situations, a slight lag isn’t the end of the world. On the other hand, translation errors might be. Google Translate has produced some doozies, and its cousin isn’t without its flaws, either. In the second video I linked to, for example, we see that in a relatively short exchange, it makes a serious translation mistake. The reporter blames it on the ambient noise, but if Interpreter mode is being showcased at hotel welcome desks and places like a pastry stand, ambient noise will probably always be a factor.

Still, there is something undeniably neat about a little screen and app that can help us understand each other…most of the time. Read on to learn more about Google Assistant’s Interpreter mode.

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