LAS VEGAS—Google Assistant's translation feature just got a huge upgrade. The voice assistant is now capable of understanding spoken words and speaking the translation in one of 27 languages. I had a chance to try out this feature, and was suitably impressed with its accuracy.
Google's interpretation feature is currently rolling out to all Google Home devices, and will soon make its way to third-party smart speakers with Google Assistant. It's not yet available for smartphones, but the company said that was next on the list. If you're using a smart display, such as the Google Home Hub, the words you speak will appear onscreen, along with their translation.
I spoke in Italian with a concierge who was speaking English, as well as a Google representative who was speaking German. The translation isn't quite simultaneous; after I spoke a phrase, there was a pause of a little less than a second before Google would speak the translated sentence. The other person then had to wait for a chime before they could speak their response. It made the conversation feel a little jagged, but it worked well enough.
Other languages that Google recognizes include Spanish and Mandarin. However, Google Assistant has some rough edges. For example, if you don't speak with the proper inflection, it will have trouble translating — as a colleague discovered when he tried saying "donde esta el bano." Also, when I said, "My name is Michael Prospero" in Italian, the Assistant translated my first name as Michelle.
Those issues aside, the voice interpretation for Google Assistant is a powerful feature, and something that will make it useful when traveling overseas — especially when it comes to smartphones. It's also a huge advantage over Amazon Alexa, and could help swing more people over to Google's Assistant.
Update: Here are the languages that Google can translate: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
Credit: Mike Prospero/Tom's Guide