Neural networks make Google Translate app smarter, more accurate while offline

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Google Translate is now better, even offline
On-device learning should make the Google Translate app much better at its job.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Neural machine translation (NMT) has made the online version of Google Translate more accurate for years. Today, this AI feature was added to the iOS and Android apps so it can be used offline.

NTM allows the software to learn over time to create better, more natural translations. And this function is available while traveling without a local data plan.

“The neural system translates whole sentences at a time, rather than piece by piece. It uses broader context to help determine the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to sound more like a real person speaking with proper grammar. This makes translated paragraphs and articles a lot smoother and easier to read,” is Google’s promise.

Earlier this year, the Microsoft Translator app also acquired artificial intelligence-powered translations available even when the iPhone is offline.

Google Translate rolling out now

The iOS app is being slowly released over several days, so not everyone has access to the newest version. At the time of this writing, the App Store was still telling us that last week’s version of Google Translate is the newest. Still, it should be available to everyone soon.

A language pack for each language to be translated to or from is also necessary. Google promises that these are 35MB to 45MB in size. These are smaller than the ones required by the old statistical machine translation method.

Google Translate and the language packs are free to download and use. The Android version is on Google Play.