Unless you have a need for a professional translator, you will probably find that the quality of smart phone assistant translators is good enough and they seem to be getting better all the time. It’s unlikely that they will replace a human translator any time soon when the importance of accuracy is paramount, such as a legal document translation or a medical document translation but for all non-commercial and amateur translation needs their accuracy is sufficient.
Some smart phones are smarter than others!
Just like people, some smart phone translation assistant apps are better than others. Siri is probably the pick of the bunch, but improvements and technological advances are being made all the time. Siri can supposedly speak twenty one different languages and not only that it can differentiate between dialects as well. All in all it has a good go at interpreting those twenty one languages in thirty six different countries. That means that it can differentiate between Mexican Spanish and Spanish Spanish and British English and American English.
Cortana is another translation assistant and can speak eight languages and tailor the usage of these languages s that it can reach thirteen different countries. That makes it more useful than Amazon’s Alexa, which is only proficient in two languages: English and German. Like Siri, Cortana knows the difference between European classic Spanish and Mexican Spanish and thinks it knows quite a bit about Mexican culture as well, a key component in all important localisation.
Of course, real human beings are behind the smart phone translation apps. The assistants may seem a trifle robotic, but what has happened in the development of these tools is the recording of words and phrases in different languages and dialects by human beings. All of these scraps of speech are recorded and available to be strung together in different combinations to answer any of your questions. The smartness of these smart phone translation assistant apps relies on recognising the question. The answers cannot cope with a question which is not on the ‘list’ and cannot cope well with a complex question. All of the answers are stock answers, even if the number and diversity of them, as well as the diversity of languages and dialects being available for translation, is growing all the time.
Ever heard of Bixby?
Bixby is the new kid on the translation app block. It’s a Samsung app and is expected to be a competitor, at least in terms of language and dialect diversity, as Siri. Of course, the greater the number of languages used, the more likely that the name of the app will become difficult to remember or even pronounce by at least some of the people who might want to use it. This is certainly the case with Bixby, for instance. The two consonants in the middle of the word make it difficult for those whose native languages separate all consonants with vowels. For a Korean, it would have been better called ‘Bixaby!’