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Like Skype, Google will soon let you speak any language

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Powerful as Google Translate is, we haven't yet reached the age of real-time instant interpretation promised by The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. The mobile app looks set to take a big leap forward, however, with an update that instantly translates speech into text.

Nothing is official yet but the New York Times has seen what's coming down the pipe. Its report on language translation tech says that an update announcement is due "soon" from Mountain View.

Once it arrives you'll be able to speak some English (or another supported language) and have the translation appear on screen instantly — it's not quite at the level of Skype's real-time translation service, which includes audio too, but it's getting there.

Know the lingo

The upcoming Google Translate app update will also be able to recognise the language you're speaking right away, another way of getting to the translation you need with the minimum of fuss. In the current app you can only use auto-detect on written text.

Connection issues can be a problem when touring around the world but Google Translate already includes offline caching capabilities so you can load up on the languages you know you're going to need in advance.

The new feature might not sound like a huge improvement on the app's existing tools but the key to the upgrade is in the seamless way you'll be able to talk-to-translate, bringing all-encompassing instant translations one step closer to reality.

David Nield
David Nield

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.