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Google Translate on Android - Cloud Processing

The Google Android platform is focused on smartphones as cloud devices, integrating with online services like Gmail and Google Contacts and Calendar.

But it also integrates with the cloud at a deeper level, with Google back-end services like voice input (speech recognition), voice output (text to speech), and translation. As a result, Android developers can build on these services to integrate these kinds of rather sophisticated features into their own applications. And the integration can be deeper -- in the latest Android for the new Google Nexus One phone, all text input fields now accept voice input.

Since smartphones are strongly connected devices with wireless broadband services, they are no longer constrained by whatever performance and functionality might be reasonable to expect from handheld processors and storage.

For example, the free Google Translate app for Android brings the full functionality of the Google Translate online service into your hand, with over 50 languages currently supported.

And, of course, it supports voice input (to speak the phrase to be translated -- in English only, for now). And it provides text to speech output for the translated text in the target language. It also remembers the recent history of your phrases, and you can star specific items for later recall (even if the phone is offline).

As another example, Talk To Me, another free app for Android, provides several convenience options around this same set of services.

To help communicate with others, Talk To Me has a simple mode for quick voice translations from English to common languages -- just speak, and then listen to the translation (which is also displayed as text so it's easy to show). The app also has options to slow down the speech rate and pitch to help make it more intelligible.

Even simpler, you can create a Widget on the Android desktop for instant translations. And you can send the translated text in E-mail or as a text message.

Not bad for what are basically simple dialog boxes to select the languages and listen to the translation -- with the heavy lifting done in the cloud. In this way, handheld apps are breaking free of the apparent limitations of the small platform, and are going to get a lot more sophisticated.

See my Verizon Droid article for more on the Android interface

See my Mobile Communications Gallery for more on smartphones.

See my Smartphone Apps Gallery for more on apps and app stores.

Find the Verizon Droid from Motorola on Amazon.com

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