Microsoft is adding two key new services for its Translator apps for iOS and Android, each one getting its own new service. For Android, Microsoft is introducing offline translations via downloadable packs for 10 languages. Once you install the app and download a translation package, you can use the app whether you’re connected or not, useful when travelling and roaming costs are high, for example.
The initial batch of offline packs include Chinese Simplified, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Microsoft is using the power of Deep Neural Networks, which have been powering the cloud version of Microsoft Translator for over a year and also led to the development of popular deep learning experiments coming out of Microsoft like Fetch, the dog recognition app, and How-Old.net.
For the iPhone, Microsoft Translator app users will be getting a feature that’s been around for Windows Phone users since Windows Phone 8.0, OCR. Optical Character Recognition allows you to take a picture with your phone (or use one already in your camera roll) and translate the text in the photo using the app. The OCR capabilities will be initially available in 21 languages.
The new features join recent advances like in-person translations, allowing you to carry on a conversation across languages using your phone for near-real time translations.