Google has long held a special focus on the technology needs of India, and is making a big step toward addressing the entire subcontinent with today's announcements of improved language support across multiple products. In an attempt to make its products useful for nearly all of the estimated 400 million internet users in India, Google is expanding and improving its automatic translation, improving translations in Chrome, adding common Indian languages to Gboard and adding a Hindi dictionary to Google Search.
The backbone of these changes is the launch of what Google calls "Neural Machine Translation." In general, this is a next-gen translation system that lets Google Translate (opens in new tab) better understand whole sentences rather than snippets or phrases, which is important when translating between English and nine widely used Indian languages: Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam and Kannada. The new system does a better job of understanding context and improves overall quality dramatically.
That core Google Translate technology is also now integrated into Chrome, so you can get full-page translations with the same quality in those same nine languages.
On the opposite end of the translation, Gboard is adding 11 new languages, bringing the total number of often-used Indian languages supported to 22. With the new languages Gboard continues to have all the same features like glide typing and voice typing along with Google Search built in. You can also resize and reposition the keyboard to your liking. Perhaps most importantly, there's transliteration from a QWERTY layout, so you can actually spell out words phonetically using the QWERTY keyboard and have them entered to the app in the language of your choice.
This combination of features goes a huge way toward making Google's properties, but also everything accessible on the web, easier to understand for people in India who aren't fluent in English.
Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.
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