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Google Improves Android Translator To Battle Siri

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the let-your-phone-do-the-talking dept.

Google 185

judgecorp writes "Google Translate for Android, the mobile version of Google's machine translation software, now translates speech back and forth between 14 languages, the company claims. Earlier this year the company added Conversation Mode, which lets users to translate chats between English and Spanish. Now Google has made the tool available from Android 2.2 handsets and later in Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian and Turkish. The arrival of Siri on the iPhone could spark serious competition in translation systems on phones."

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185 comments

Yes, that's neat but worthless (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738146)

Yes, that's neat but worthless because it requires Verizon and other carriers to actually push that update out to their phones. Verizon will wait two years, then push it out bundled with 6 new apps that you can't remove and can't kill.

Re:Yes, that's neat but worthless (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738210)

Nice troll, but version 2.2 of Google Translate for Android is currently available in the standard Android Market on my Verizon Droid2. And if it wasn't, and I really wanted it, I could just download it and install manually. The only thing Verizon holds back is OS revisions, and while it would be nice if they offered some sort of "early adopter" program where you could update before the new version has been certified, it's pretty understandable that they don't just push the updates out to everyone on release day since they have to support it.

Re:Yes, that's neat but worthless (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738256)

You need to grok the difference between an app and the android system.

Re:Yes, that's neat but worthless (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738704)

Cut him some slack, he's probably an iOS user and used to the fact that the OS arbitrarily adds in apps he can't remove or bans ones he wants.

An app upgrade, not an os upgrade (2)

Comboman (895500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738302)

Google Translate is an app on Android Marketplace. It is not part of the OS, thus the carrier cannot stop you from upgrading it. Also if you're so bent out of shape about carrier restrictions then buy an unlocked phone like the Nexus S (or root your carrier subsidized phone).

Re:Yes, that's neat but worthless (4, Informative)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738304)

The app itself is free to download from the android market [android.com] and will run on any Android device running Andorid 1.5+. That's pretty much everything.

Conversation mode does appear to require Android 2.2 though, which means it should work on fine on ~85% of Android devices out in the wild.

Re:Yes, that's neat but worthless (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739390)

The app itself is free to download from the android market [android.com] and will run on any Android device running Andorid 1.5+. That's pretty much everything.

Conversation mode does appear to require Android 2.2 though, which means it should work on fine on ~85% of Android devices out in the wild.

But, without integration into the OS, isn't this just a standalone app with limited usefulness? I'm not trolling, I'm genuinely curious. How does something like this enhance the ability to schedule an event, play a song, ask for directions, etc. (all which require interacting with another app)?

Google Translate is as much a competitor with Siri as MS Word is a competitor with AutoDesk Inventor. They have nothing to do with each other, other than they are both "software".

Re:Yes, that's neat but worthless (1)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739652)

It is a standalone app but using Android's APIs and other app hooks it can do quite a lot. Compose and send SMS, make calls, search the web, get directions, etc.

Yeah but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738168)

...with all the IP litigation going on lately we soon won't be able to buy any phones to try this out on.

Re:Yeah but... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738576)

How does most IP litigation end up... Company A shares so many of their IP information with the other company for compensation, and both sides are happy again. Or company A pays Company B some money and they continue on. You are blind panicking about nothing.

Re:Yeah but... (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738726)

And I'm sure the sales bans on Samsung products in various regions pending legal decisions is having no affect whatsoever on their bottom line...

How long until... (1, Offtopic)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738178)

How long until this technology spreads?

If I open the fridge will it remind me that the premixed salad I intended to eat has been sitting there for two weeks and it will go bad today if I don't eat it.

Can I then ask my fridge what shelf I put the salad on because I don't remember- and it will tell me.

Will my front door greet me and ask how my day was- and be compassionate to me when I say it sucked. Could I ask my front door if it has seen anything suspicious- and change the welcome message for salesmen to "go away"?

Will my dog bark to me when I come home- and come running when I say "walkies"?

Re:How long until... (4, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738336)

Dangerous times lay ahead when asking your appliances anything about tossed salad.

Re:How long until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738620)

Or, alternatively, the best times ever!

Re:How long until... (2)

lpp (115405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739046)

"Open the refrigerator doors, HAL."

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave."

Re:How long until... (2)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739454)

"Open the refrigerator doors, HAL."

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave."

Wow! A great new diet aid product!

Appliances with "Diet Mode"!

Re:How long until... (2)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739170)

... until this tech can correctly translate from Brazilian to English?

As an example, this sentence in Portuguese:

"Vamos evitar o uso de papel, gastar papel implica em gastar árvores"

Google translates as:

"We avoid the use of paper, wasting paper implies spending trees"

Here we have some problems of grammar, changed words for no reason and wrong use of future. A more correct translation is*:

"We will avoid the use of paper, spending paper implies spending trees" br>
* Note: Is not a "exact" translation. English is too simple to pass the same idea in the same way as using Portuguese.

Re:How long until... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739648)

Thing is, I got the gist of it. It may not be a great translation, but if I'm in Brazil and the options are (a) that translation, and (b) no translation, I'm a lot better off with (a) than (b).

You could call it 80% of the way there, in four decades of work. The remaining 20% will probably take another four decades, at least. But at 80% we've reached something that is frequently useful.

Siri and translation (4, Insightful)

Lord Satri (609291) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738182)

Siri doesn't do translations, it's more of an advanced voice recognition tool. Am I wrong? This would mean that at the moment, Apple's Siri and Google Translation would have two different strengths; Siri: usable natural language voice recognition (at least that's how they sell it) and Google Tranlation, well, multi-language translations.

Re:Siri and translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738312)

You are not wrong; you are correct. Siri is more a "command and control + voice data entry" type of application whereas Google Translate doesn't do any of those - it translates text. Yes, it can do conversation mode so it has some limited speech to text ability. But it doesn't use that ability to do any of the things Siri does. Completely different applications without any real crossover or competition points at all.

Re:Siri and translation (5, Informative)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738372)

You are correct. I'm sure Siri will gain more functionality in the future but as it stands now, Siri should be compared to Voice Search [android.com] and other third party voice command apps.

Google Translate does translate.

Siri (on iPhone) and Voice Search (on Android) handle voice commands and interaction.

Re:Siri and translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738936)

I would hope that Siri will translate soon enough. Especially if they do it in a way that has never been done before to be more realistic.

Re:Siri and translation (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738946)

Yeah, the submitter fails AI.

Maybe one day AIs will only pass the Turing test if they pretend to be stupid.

Re:Siri and translation (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739266)

I have actually found the Android voice search to be easier to get to, better at understanding my voice in loud environments, and faster to find what I am actually looking for. Not sure who really thinks Siri is a threat to that, or who thought Siri did translations.

Re:Siri and translation (1)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739618)

There's another free voice app [android.com] that does much more Siri-esque magic than Google's default. It's a lot of fun to play with and I can't wait to see how much better these voice command apps get in the next decade. Seems like the most difficult challenge ahead is filtering out the aggravating background noises and conversations in most environments.

Re:Siri and translation (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738402)

If you can think back to your last conversation with a waiter in a country whose language you did not speak then you know that Translation requires fairly high accuracy to be perceived as being good. Commands don't. Siri is trying to get the jist of what you mean and act on it.

Re:Siri and translation (2)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738580)

Well [youtube.com], not that good at getting the gist of it..

And for those that want to think of Siri as something as good as the average human.. I think most people have no problem figuring out if he meant "Work" or "Home" there...

Re:Siri and translation (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739548)

Well [youtube.com], not that good at getting the gist of it..

And for those that want to think of Siri as something as good as the average human.. I think most people have no problem figuring out if he meant "Work" or "Home" there...

I guess you didn't notice the big, fat "BETA" tag that Apple slapped on Siri? Siri isn't perfect at deriving meaning from speech; hell, HUMANS aren't perfect, or there would be far fewer domestic disputes. But it IS apparently good enough to put out there and get quite a bit of usefulness from, even in its present state of DEVELOPMENT.

Re:Siri and translation (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738738)

Siri actually does a bit more than just get the jist. You can dictate text messages to it and it will type exactly what you said. On the other hand, while it's pretty good (I have it on my phone and I'm reasonably impressed), there are already stories of some pretty spectacular failures of communication with it, and I've had to repeat myself a couple of times in my experimenting with it too. I'd be wary of using a voice recognition and translation service. Between the fact that voice recognition is generally good, but occasionally hysterically wrong; and the fact that on the fly computer translations are generally good, but occasionally hysterically wrong... Adding the two together, especially when you're trying to communicate with strangers who may or may not be easily insulted by the mistakes seems like a recipe for potential problems.

Re:Siri and translation (2, Insightful)

adamstew (909658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738406)

Siri isn't even just voice recognition. It uses voice recognition as the input for it to perform tasks or lookup trivia type questions for you. Things like "schedule a meeting with my boss tomorrow at 10 about next year's budget". That's all you need to say, and Siri will create a meeting invite in Exchange, inviting my boss for a meeting at 10... it'll title the meeting "Next Year's Budget".

You can use it for voice dictation... Just about every text input field, now has a microphone that simply lets you say what you were going to type... and the voice recognition is VERY good.

So while google is using voice recognition, it is using it for two different applications. It's like saying Microsoft Word is competing with Adobe Photoshop because they both use the mouse as an input device. You can't even use Siri for translation. But it wouldn't surprise me if Apple added a similar type of translation feature to Siri... although I doubt it would show up in a conversationalist way... More like "translate 'where is the nearest hospital' in to french".

Re:Siri and translation (5, Informative)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738736)

You can use it for voice dictation... Just about every text input field, now has a microphone that simply lets you say what you were going to type... and the voice recognition is VERY good.

And that have been on Android since v1.6, actually.

Re:Siri and translation (2)

lpp (115405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739078)

My understanding (disclaimer: I do not have a 4S, I'm solely relying on reviews) is that Siri handles natural speech much better than the speech recognition found on Android devices. By natural, I mean regular conversational tone and flow, as opposed to the more robotic method where you must. pause. on. each. word. in order to give the translator the chance to note word breaks and parse the sentence structure. So it's not that Siri does it and Android doesn't. It's that Siri seems to do it better, working for the user instead of the user working for the computer.

Re:Siri and translation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739680)

I've never had to do that with android in fact I'm using it right as I speak to type this message. And it got the message completely correct by the way.

Re:Siri and translation (-1, Flamebait)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739562)

Try not to be a retard and read his post again. Google does not currently have an equivalent to Siri. I know that pisses the Fandroids off, but it's reality. On the other side, Siri is not a translation app, so it doesn't do what Google's translation app does. While they both accept voice as input, they functions are completely different.

Re:Siri and translation (3, Funny)

brunokummel (664267) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738422)

...... Siri: usable natural language voice recognition (at least that's how they sell it) .....

Japanese people beg to differ... :D [youtube.com]

Re:Siri and translation (1)

toruonu (1696670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739526)

Well having been in Japan I can tell you that even though I'm fluent in english it took me also multiple tries to understand what the heck they were trying to tell me in English. Hell I understood more of it when they were talking in Japanese and using body language. So don't blame Siri, even a person can't understand them most of the time because of some very important vowels being missaid...

Re:Siri and translation (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738430)

Siri doesn't do translations, it's more of an advanced voice recognition tool.

Siri is a user shell. It provides an interface to the operating system. Voice recognition is one part of the technology; a vital part. The other part is the logic Siri uses to process the words it hears as commands. It translates spoken natural language statements into operating system calls.

Re:Siri and translation (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738438)

You aren't wrong, Siri is not a translator. However, Siri's grasp of context is, hypothetically speaking at least, and important step for translation. I'll give you an example: Before I did a sync of my phone, Siri didn't understand my cat's name. Afterwards, now when I mention my cat, it spells the name correctly and even capitalizes it as a proper noun. I was seriously shocked that it picked up on that. For that reason, I think it can tell the difference between may and May.

Anyway, I'm getting a little off-track here. Yes, you're right, it has nothing to do with translation. However, I can totally see why people are starting to dream of that possibility coming awfully quick.

next... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738492)

Google Improves Orange to Battle Apple

Re:Siri and translation (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738684)

Heh.

What do they call the process where you say that you're better than the competition in a VERY loosely-related type of product?

e.g. "In the news today, Proctor and Gamble, Inc. has announced that it plans to compete with the largest trucking companies. P&G claims that its delivery processes are faster than all other trucking companies."
"Well, they USE trucking companies, so their food must be the best if they are competing with the other trucking companies, right?"

Re:Siri and translation (1)

RustyShackleford007 (2485098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738800)

Heh.

What do they call the process where you say that you're better than the competition in a VERY loosely-related type of product?

e.g. "In the news today, Proctor and Gamble, Inc. has announced that it plans to compete with the largest trucking companies. P&G claims that its delivery processes are faster than all other trucking companies." "Well, they USE trucking companies, so their food must be the best if they are competing with the other trucking companies, right?"

Yes, and their soap is the smoothest delicacy on the market. LOL

You were thinking of Kraft, right? Bait and switch!

Re:Siri and translation (0)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738942)

You were thinking of Kraft, right? Bait and switch!

You got me, you got me. Actually, yes, I was thinking of a food manufacturer and thought P&G would be a better reference. Great minds. Love your nick btw! What's the gov't up to today?

Re:Siri and translation (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739020)

P&G actually used to own Pringles, Jif.

I looked that up coz I got the impression that I saw their name before on some snack food. And looks like my memory was OK - they only got rid of Pringles recently.

Re:Siri and translation (1)

RustyShackleford007 (2485098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739318)

You were thinking of Kraft, right? Bait and switch!

You got me, you got me. Actually, yes, I was thinking of a food manufacturer and thought P&G would be a better reference. Great minds. Love your nick btw! What's the gov't up to today?

Thank you. The government is up to making you wish you knew what the government is up to. :)

Re:Siri and translation (1)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738968)

My assumption is that Translate is used by other Apps to do voice recognition. I have Vlingo on my Android phone which is very Siri like (it does dictation, search and other such things, I had a phone off with my IPhone 4S using friend on Friday and other than being a bit faster they seemed pretty similar).

Re:Siri and translation (1)

z_gringo (452163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739296)

Not only does Siri not do translations, the command / control functions that she is supposed to do, are extremely limited. Siri, at least for me, fails to work most of the time even for the incredibly simple tasks that I have tried, such as calling contacts and playing certain songs.

For example, Siri can set the alarm for 6:00am, but if I want that alarm to be set for every weekday, that task is too complex for her.

Siri can play songs, provided that your song list is filled with popular songs in english by artists with English sounding names, but if you are using Siri in English and happen to have songs in German by German artist, then Siri is useless. Ditto for making calls to contacts whose names aren't common names for the language you are using Siri in.

Siri actually doesn't seem to be much better than IBMs voice recognition software that I used nearly 20 years ago.

I can't see why anyone is remotely impressed with Siri, it is just a useless waste of time as far as I can tell. Google translate, on the other hand seems really impressive with being able to recognize the speech and translate it to another language.

Re:Siri and translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739658)

Are you using the old Siri app or the new one integrated into the OS that uses off-device assets? Oh, wait, new one isn't actually released yet, so your complaints are out of date and pointless.

More proof geeks are just generally stupid people with a few computer skills.

Google Improves Android Translator To Battle Siri? (4, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738202)

Why the catchy headline "To Battle Siri"? Why wouldn't it be just for "Improving Android Translator"?

Re:Google Improves Android Translator To Battle Si (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738378)

Apple hype is lighting a fire under Google to improve their offerings ... and that's a bad thing?

What happend to 'competition is good' back when Slashdot's goal was to malign Microsoft in every even numbered article?

Except it's not (5, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738490)

Except Siri doesn't do translation, it does voice command recognition. This is a fail by the editors, picking a submission that deliberately creates an "Apple vs Google" headline to stir up page loads. It's like comparing Google Reader to Apple Mail, it's nonsensical.

Re:Except it's not (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738534)

Of course Slashdot is trolling for ad-views! The point is that at least here it's working to your benefit.

Re:Except it's not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738874)

I'd still argue it's incorrect even in that case. This isn't Google improving their offering in response to new features from Apple unless you honestly believe they did all of the development work to drive these improvements in the last week or so. Clearly something like this Google would have been working on for a long time, this is just Google tries to improve upon Google in order to remain a prominent company - competition with Apple and the likes is part of the big picture, but this feature is not a direct answer to Apple's new feature.

Re:Google Improves Android Translator To Battle Si (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739752)

Why the catchy headline "To Battle Siri"? Why wouldn't it be just for "Improving Android Translator"?

Because then you couldn't start the rewriting of history to be consistent with the Apple hype circus.

Remember, if Apple does something, it's never been done before, or if has, Apple did it so much better as to be qualitatively different from everything that came before, and anything that's vaguely similar, regardless of how different, is by definition playing catch-up because it's not Apple.

You'd think you'd get your basic Apple media coverage narrative down by now, especially on Slashdot.

Improved? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738266)

Impossible, because Android speech recognition doesn't need to be 'improved' to compete with Siri.

Right here on my spreadsheet I have a checkbox next to 'speech recognition' under the Android column along with the date it was implemented. Under the iOS column I have this laughably late date as well as a star indicating iOS offers this feature on only 1 device. HA HA HA HA HA HA.

This way when people tell me they want an iPhone I can pull out this sheet and annihilate them FACTS. YES ANDROID DOES SPEECH RECOGNITION APPLE IS JUST SLICK MARKETING AND HYPE you stupid fool. They add some feature MY ANDROID phone has had for 2 years and then hold a press conference and everybody is all OH APPLE IS MAGICAL but truth is they are just followers.

So yes Android already has this feature and THAT MEANS IT IS EXACTLY THE SAME because if it weren't my spreadsheet would indicate it and it doesn't. Just like Android has multi-touch and so does Apple SO THEY ARE THE SAME.

Your mother is called. (4, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738328)

She said to tell you to stop being so serious about trivial shit like what one smart phone does and another can't. Oh, she also said to get a life and move out of her basement.

Re:Improved? (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738468)

I figured out earlier on this is a fakepost or troll, but iPhone has had voice commands for a while. Hold down the home button and talk away.

Re:Improved? (1)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739758)

Put your spreadsheet away (how pathetic that you have one) and realize that Google does not currently have an offering that does what Siri does. They have snippets of it, but Siri does much more than just commands.

Siri doesTranslation? (4, Insightful)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738280)

Does Siri even do translation? Every time I've asked it to translate an English word into Spanish it says it doesn't know what I mean. This is not "battling" Siri at all. Catchy key-word title to get more clicks is what I see.

Re:Siri doesTranslation? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739308)

Sometimes when products compete, they don't aim to simply implement the same features. Sometimes they add different features to appeal to people that think feature A on one product is pretty neat but they can't live without feature B that is now on your product and not the other.

It's a lot of fun! (ELEVEN!) (2)

SebZero (1051264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738306)

The conversation mode is in alpha and it's intermittently very good or very bad (a complete hoot)!

I'm bilingual and visited my mother with a, "mum come have a go at this" - 15 minutes later we gave up with tears of laughter at some of the translations.

Then of course, we tried pieces of the "voice recognition lift" skit which has again come into relevance with the release of siri

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FFRoYhTJQQ [youtube.com]

Except Siri doesn't do any of that. (1)

BLToday (1777712) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738330)

What competition? Google Translate "translates", Siri is a "voice personal assistant".

Siri vs Google Translator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738362)

How can you even begin to compare two such different applications? They serve two completely different purposes and appeal to two completely different groups of people. I, personally, don't need a 12 (or was it 14) language translator. On the other hand, it is nice to ask my phone if I'll need an umbrella today. (Guess what? I won't.)

Funny thing about this Siri business.... (4, Informative)

kervin (64171) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738516)

First, the article makes no sense since Siri doesn't do translation. I guess translation doesn't "exist" yet since Apple doesn't have a product.

Google, Nuance and Microsoft have been pushing Speech Recognition for a few years now. These companies put millions into NLP R&D ever year and are on the forefront of technology. Apple had been ignoring this space and so these companies have had great Speech Recognition and other NLP products for a while and Apple doesn't.

Google and Microsoft are about to release the next wave of speech products ( e.g. in Android 4 and WP 8 ). These companies have NLP technology Apple hasn't even begin to tackle. Like NLP in all major world languages and across many markets ( eg. Checkout EngKoo [microsoft.com] for example )

IOS was falling behind and Apple scrambled to purchase a Speech recognition mobile app, quickly licensed Nuance and Wolfram Alpha knowledgebase technology, and added those APIs in the operating system. They had to remove Siri from their market place.

Marketing mentions DARPA, but just about all Speech R&D is funded in someway by DARPA. DARPA's been carrying that torch for a while now. Even the popular open source Pocket Sphinx [sourceforge.net] was made possible by partial DARPA funding.

In short this Siri marketing push is the largest scale astroturf marketing campaign I've ever seen.

Re:Funny thing about this Siri business.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738616)

They bought Siri two years ago. Some crazy scramble huh?

Re:Funny thing about this Siri business.... (1, Informative)

Henriok (6762) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738734)

The problem with everything you mentions is that it can be awesomely great, but fundamentally useless if no one knows that it excises at all. I didn't know Google have any speech services, nor Microsoft. I do however know that Apple has, so what Apple have done is useful for me. What Google or Microsoft has done was impossible for me to use, since it was unknown to me.

Re:Funny thing about this Siri business.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739056)

The problem with everything you mentions is that it can be awesomely great, but fundamentally useless if no one knows that it excises at all. I didn't know Google have any speech services, nor Microsoft. I do however know that Apple has, so what Apple have done is useful for me. What Google or Microsoft has done was impossible for me to use, since it was unknown to me.

What Apple has done is impossible for me to use, since my phone runs a superior platform. But I've been enjoying Google's speech tech quite a bit. Sorry you didn't get the memo.

Re:Funny thing about this Siri business.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738864)

I guess translation doesn't "exist" yet since Apple doesn't have a product.

In context, your comment makes no sense, as the article notes that Google has added translation to their voice recognition app thus it surely exists. The article's point is that Google is trying to make the app more useful and translation is one way they are doing it.

Normal people don't endlessly categorize everything.

These companies put millions into NLP R&D ever year and are on the forefront of technology. Apple had been ignoring this space

Yet few people use those products and they certainly don't generate much excitement. Generally they cause more frustration than they alleviate, with their need for explicit phrasing and the fact they often make simple mistakes that take more time to correct than was saved by using speech in the first place.

And unless you have some inside information on Apple's R&D efforts I doubt you have any idea what they are or aren't ignoring. As is typical of Apple, they don't release products/features until they think people will want and use them. Is Siri one? Haven't used it so I have no idea.

IOS was falling behind and Apple scrambled to purchase a Speech recognition mobile app

I doubt any company with as much money as Apple scamble to do anything. iOS continue to outsell Android as well as bring in far more money.

As far as their removing it, it was their company to do with what they want. It was for sale when they bought it and if you wanted to keep the app up you could've bought it, but probably not.

In short this Siri marketing push is the largest scale astroturf marketing campaign I've ever seen

Apple promoting an Apple product? Say it ain't so.

Re:Funny thing about this Siri business.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739410)

iOS continue to outsell Android as well as bring in far more money

I don't think so. [lmgtfy.com]

Re:Funny thing about this Siri business.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738896)

lol how is Siri marketing "astroturfing" in any way

protip buying ad slots in prime time isn't astroturfing, it's advertising

Re:Funny thing about this Siri business.... (1)

Thaedron (1907794) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739000)

Yes, and which was the technologically better platform, VHS or Beta...??? Whether they are better than the competition or not, they have scored a huge coup by bringing a product to market that is very very good in the niche that it is designed to operate and thusly gained a crap-ton of recognition for it. And once again they are driving change in the landscape.

All your base are belong to us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738532)

Nope... still doesn't work.

Old translator sucks rocks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37738544)

Actually decided to attempt to use it on a trip to Brazil earlier this year - it is not ready for prime time. Fortunately, I had purchased a specialty tool which actually worked quite well. I figured that the Google one would be better since it would use the back-end Google engine for translations, but that didn't work at all. So while it's a good idea - it just doesn't work in practice.

I wanted a device which I could use in a conversation translating both sides back and forth for very simple sentences. As I said the Android translator was worthless - I doubt any for the iPhone would have done better. But the little translator I purchased did well enough that I could communicate. Although I did have to fall back on my less than adequate Spanish at times to get the idea across. Fortunately, Brazilians can understand Spanish since it's like mis-pronounced Portuguese although it can be difficult for them to butcher their language into something understandable as Spanish.

The voice recognition ability was the real down falling. Although we are much closer than 10 years ago, we still have a long way to go....

Unrelated (1)

Asten (674521) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738678)

So, aside from what everyone has pointed out already - that these are not really direct competition - it should also be noted that google probably didn't just code this all up in a couple weeks. It's likely been on their roadmap and under development for months.

useless (3, Insightful)

Blymie (231220) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738856)

Google's voice search, and translate, and all other speech -> text products are absolutely useless. I find a very, very, very low success rate.

Good luck if I'm driving in a car too, and the background noise adds to the difficulty.

I know many other people that are in the same boat, but these are all locals. I wonder if other people think it's just great to have to repeat themselves 10 times, or if others do not have the same issues. I do not believe that local dialects and pronunciation is the issue, the english I hear here, seems to be the same english I might hear on Northern US news reports, on TV stations.

However, as it sits? Useless!

Re:useless (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739148)

I have been using google voice actions for well over a year and have a great success rate doing even longish dictation except in high noise situations. However, I do talk without much of an accent and make it a point to enunciate all the syllables but am still often amazed how well it works with even proper nouns. I would recommend trying to speak US English without an accent. I know this may be difficult for someone with a strong accent, but perhaps Hugh Laurie can give you some pointers.

Re:useless (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739274)

Not only that, but Google voice recognition requires wifi or data connection.
So, If you're out of office and out of 3G range (or don't have data plan (kbites left for the month)), you're practically talking to a brick.

Re:useless (1)

asylumx (881307) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739542)

Maybe I'm only recalling AT&T, but I don't think you can even buy an iPhone without a data plan.

Re:useless (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739690)

I haven't used Google voice recognition in this context, but I have seen it in use on YouTube videos. I have yet to see a single case, even for simple spoken speech, where it was even describable as usable.

Their translator generally gets the gist of things, from properly-written text. But the speech-to-text part of it is not ready for prime time, at least not for naturally spoken speech. Maybe it's better when you're speaking directly to it.

Re:useless (4, Informative)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739762)

" I do not believe that local dialects and pronunciation is the issue"

I have been using the voice input functionality since it came out, and have been shocked at the startling accuracy of it. It is almost never wrong, and is eminently useful for navigation, making calls (by number or by name), or for voice dictation in a message. I use it frequently and it is shockingly rare that it isn't dead on.

I'm talking about just general voice to text, not about translate which adds another language to language issue, however Google has the voice recognition thing DOWN. I imagine there are some accents and manners of speech that present it difficulty however.

Voice Translation is Useless (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 2 years ago | (#37738960)

Having just traveled to a spanish speaking country, I can say with certainty that I did not use voice translation at all. That said, Wordlens (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/word-lens/id383463868?mt=8 and again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2OfQdYrHRs [youtube.com]) was so useful in a restaurant as a vegetarian trying to figure out what was meat and what was not...

Re:Voice Translation is Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739344)

Or you could have taken thirty minutes to learn some spanish food terms before visiting another country. Hell, you could even be more intellectually lazy and just learned something like "soy vegetariano" or "tiene la comidas vegetariana?"

"What we have here, is a failure to communicate."

We can do it. It just wasn't "economically viable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739294)

This is one of those times when the technology exists, it can be done, but some guy decided it will cost too much and bring in too little. Then another guy who just sells hardware and likes to put cool stuff on the hardware regardless of profitability of the cool stuff itself (it basically doesn't bring any money in by itself, but its coolness factor makes people buy the phone) and all of a sudden there's interest?

I'm looking forward to the day... (3, Funny)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739438)

I'm looking forward to the day when both iOS and Android devices both have continuous speech recognition tied to chatter-bot apps so that we can just sit back and watch them argue amongst themselves about which is better, thereby saving ./ 80% of the conversion space.

Then we can focus on something really important like who was more influential - Dennis Ritchie or Steve Jobs....

Tested it this morning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37739510)

I have relatives coming to visit in a few weeks, who don't speak English, and I tested Google Translate on speech to speech this morning. It would be great if it could help with very simple directions, so that they could feel more at ease in getting around. Unfortunately, it is not yet useful. The speech recognition works well. The text to speech works well. The translate - nope.

Several issues:
- Nouns were presented as adjectives, completely changing the meaning of where to go.
- Questions were not identified as such, so these became statements.
- Often, verbs were entirely discarded.

It's not ready for primetime. I'm an Android owner, not an iPhone owner, but this isn't even useful, much less competitive.

Don't know why this is something "new" (1)

Kartu (1490911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739644)

Got my Galaxy S (I9000, not the latest version) 2 weeks ago.
It comes with Android 2.3.3. It already has quite good voice recognition that supports dosen of languages. This can't be "response to Siri" can it?

Success rate for me is 90%+. If I try to speak slower than usual, nearly 100%.
But my wife has problems talking to it and it always failed to understand what my kid says.

PS
Let me remind you, that Siri is a former app. (now removed from the app store)

Make it happen on the phone (0)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37739714)

None of this "we'll take your voice, send it to the cloud, upscale it, enhance, enhance, enhance, zoom it, then return a translated text that the local text to speech program reads". I want it to happen on my phone, even if it takes 30 minutes. Otherwise, who's going to pay for the "cloud" processing when everyone starts using it more regularly?
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