Automatic online text translation programs, apps and services have been around for quite a while and have provided valuable tools to Internet users in navigating their way around the web. Verbal translation or direct interpretation however, is another question altogether and is something which has only recently become available. Both Google and Twitter presented developments in this field in January, which can bring automatic translation into our everyday lives with a little help from the mobile phone.
The 2015 version of Google Translate is a marked improvement on previous versions and comes with a notable addition: it now takes advanatge of the extensive development of smartphone technology combining microphone and camera services to translate in real time. The new app released simultaneously for both Android and Apple iOS, “transforms mobile devices into tools for more powerful translation.”
To start with, the translating services offered by Google Live chats in use since 2013 for the mobile operating system has been updated to make it “more fluid, natural and quicker” just by tapping the microphone icon on the screen. It also hooks up to Skype as the Microsoft service offers something that Google does not: video. The system, like all the others, is by no means perfect, but developers are adamant that like auto-complete texting, continued use of the service means greater accuracy.
This is s not the only new translation service to come out of California. Thanks to the integration of Word Lens, a text recognition system recently acquired by Google about a year ago, the phone can now translate the posters, signs and smaller texts we find around us, by using the built-in camera. This technology, a combination of OCR (optical character recognition) scanner and augmented reality, currently only translates from English into German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Russian and vice versa. The service is targeted at tourists and professionals who are travelling but the service is open and free to use by anyone.
For the millions of Twitter users around the world, there is also good news. Microsoft's automatic translator which was taken offline last year, is back on the massive social networking service. Detailing smaller text messages is easier for this micro translating services of Twitter feeds and so can help users in 40 languages and this number will increase quickly.
Putting the system into action couldn't be easier: just click both the website and the mobile version (Android and iOS), on the small icon of the world symbol top right of each Tweet and expanded options appear below.
Guillem Fullana i Hada d'Efak (Río Muni, Equatorial Guinea, March 23, 1929 – Palma, Mallorca, February 15, 1995), better known as Guillem d'Efak [www.escriptors.cat/autors/efakg/], was a poet, playwright, narrator, translator, singer and cultural activist, who at the age of three moved to Manacor with his parents where he lived out the drama of the civil war. He began to write poetry at the age of 16 and in 1956 published his first book of poems, influenced by the so-called “generation on 1927” , El poeta i la mar. Aside from his narrations and translating, he wrote plays, especially for children, such as the well-known El dimoni cucarell [goo.gl/0g2hLX]. From 1964 until 1980, when he moved back to Mallorca, he lived in Sabadell and then in Barcelona. During his time in Barcelona he opened theatre-cafés such as la Cova del Drac and la Cucafera, havens for the Nova Cançó [jafudes.blogspot.com]. He also made recordings of his own songs as well as covers. Somewhere between jazz and traditional Mallorcan music, a number of his songs were sang by other artists. Guillem d'Efak [goo.gl/C4b1G1] died in 1995 from cancer and in 2011 was posthumously awarded the Medalla d'Or de les Illes Balears [goo.gl/uhuX5e]. To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of his death, the youth group Xítxeros amb Empenta [xitxerosambempenta.org], with the support of l'Obra Cultural Balear [www.ocb.cat] and the Art Cool Actiu organisation [facebook.com/artcool.actiu], have organised a celebration called 20anys20dies [www.20anys20dies.cat], filled with events and activities that “revive the memory of a prolific artist, often forgotten by history andthe institutions”.