Microsoft Translator gets offline AI-powered translations

Microsoft Translator
Microsoft Translator (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft is making its Translator apps even more useful when you don't have an internet connection, thanks to a little AI help. The tech giant announced today (opens in new tab) that the Microsoft Translator app on Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire devices now feature offline AI-powered translations, boosting their accuracy through the use of new offline language packs.

Microsoft first rolled out online AI-powered neural machine translation (NMT) in 2016 before adding the same capability to Android phones with dedicated AI chips in 2017. Now, Microsoft says the team behind its Translator apps was able to tweak its algorithms to work directly on any device's hardware.

"Building on this initial work, the Translator team was able to further optimize these algorithms, allowing them to run directly on any modern device's CPU without the need for a dedicated AI chip," Microsoft says. "The new Translator apps now bring NMT to the edge of the cloud for all Android, iOS*, and Amazon Fire devices." Windows devices are also expected to get support for AI offline translations soon.

The updated language packs are available for Arabic, Chinese Simplified, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Thai. More languages are planned to support offline AI-powered translations soon, but Microsoft is already promising the updated packs are up to 50 percent smaller while offering translations that are up to 23 percent better.

Aside from the new packs, Microsoft revealed that Android developers can now take advantage of these offline capabilities in their own apps. Third-party apps can take advantage of a new local feature that allows them to tap into Translator, relying on its offline capabilities to serve up translations without an internet connection, or retrieving the translation from the cloud when connected. The feature is currently in preview and is expected to launch in general availability in the coming months. If you're a developer, you can learn more at GitHub.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • MS needs to make their Android apps work from SD cards, especially ones like Translator that can store alot of offline data
  • First make it offline for your own platform
  • cool...good job
  • "Windows devices are expected to get support for offline translations soon", speaks volumes about priorities. Sure, they maybe using telemetry data to "improve" the functionality for Windows devices but that simply means windows devices get features, services, functions very late thus giving the impression Windows is pretty much a third-class citizen and gives people who oversee financial resources for development an excuse to not fund any uwp development. As such there hasn't been much movent in that regard. Similiarily, there won't be any movement in terms of PWAs either as Microsoft has zilch in terms of a mobile play in the Windows ecosystem. Why would anyone use a PWA when they can use the web browser on a laptop or desktop PC? Contextual aware apps make more sense on mobile phones and tablets. Which is why solely focusing on PWA is flawed fundamentally. UWP apps have alot more potential as you can have complex applications and games within the UWP container. You cannot shoe horn these into PWAs. Therefore really and truly, PWAs aren't going to be the equaliser Microsoft is betting it to be - as they simply have Zero Windows based mobile devices that can leverage PWAs to their potential. Edge on WM10 lacks key components that bring PWAs to life. Therefore no matter what happens, Andromeda can't be cancelled.
  • I agree. Andromeda simply must be released this year! This whole coding things for Android FIRST has to stop. I get the whole openness to other platforms thing, but seriously? Heck, I even get PWA, sure, but not to the EXCLUSION of UWP. If they don't release Andromeda at Build this May 7th, I'm not sure there's ANY reason for ANY developer, Consumer or Enterprise, to bother attending Build 2019.