Microsoft Translator gets offline AI translations

Chances are you mostly need a translator app on your phone while you are traveling. But that’s also when you are most likely to not have any connectivity. While most translation apps still work when they are offline, they can’t use the sophisticated — and computationally intense — machine learning algorithms in the cloud that typically power them. Until now, that was also the case for the Microsoft Translator app on Amazon Fire, Android and iOS, but starting today, the app will actually run a slightly modified neural translation when offline (though iOS users may still have to wait a few days, since the update still has to be approved by Apple).

What’s interesting about this is that Microsoft is able to do this on virtually any modern phone and that there is no need for a custom AI chip in them.

Microsoft’s Arul Menezes tells me that these new translation packs are “dramatically better” and provide far more human-like translation than the old ones, which relied on an older approach to machine translations that has now been far surpassed by machine learning-based systems. The updated language packs (which only take up about half the space of the old ones) are now available for Arabic, Chinese-Simplified, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai, with others to follow.

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