Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella

Not many people use Microsoft Translator because, quite frankly, Google Translate is leaps and bounds better. However, Translator may be gaining an advantage with its latest update. TechCrunch reports that an update coming soon to the iOS app will allow Translator to run in an offline state and that it won’t require a custom AI chip to run it.

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.

Microsoft warns that this isn’t perfect, though. Noting that if you’re offline, some translations may be wonky.

The gap between the neural offline translation and the previous translation quality with our older models is huge.

On the Android side of things, Microsoft is giving developers an API to allow translations to display within their apps. iOS has had a similar feature with Microsoft Translator. Simply highlight some text, tap share to bring up the share sheet and Microsoft Translator is an option.

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