One of the benefits of competition in technology is obvious. We get better stuff. Apple’s hardware improves each year. So does the competition. Apple software improves each year. So does the competition.
That means customers are treated to continually improving products and here is a look at one from Google that Apple desperately needs for Siri to keep up.
Google Translate has been around a few years and is widely used to grab phrases, words, sentences, and documents in one language, and get them instantly translated to another language.
Even better is the real-time translation that Google’s Assistant can do for iPhone and Android. Real-time? Close enough. The app’s built-in Interpreter mode handles translations from one language to a total of 44 languages.
My only problem with using Interpreter mode on Assistant is two-fold. It’s a Google app so you need Assistant on your iPhone or iPad. And, it’s from Google and a feature not available on Siri.
How it works is simple enough. Just ask something like this: “Hey, Google, can you help me speak French?”
OK, it’s a bit more complicated than that to get started. First, you’ll need Google Translate on your iPhone. Google Assistant, too. However, the steps after that are simple enough. Just tell Assistant what language you want, open Translate, press the microphone icon, and start talking.
The Google app listens to your voice in the appropriate language, then makes the translation. Tap Conversation and it works in two-way mode.
Slick, right? And free.
Caveats? Yes. Artificial intelligence isn’t as intelligent as we want it to be. For example, I speak a little French and Spanish (go ahead; capitalize ‘little‘) so while testing Assistant and Translate I counted to 10 in Spanish and the English translation back to me was 12,345,678,910. A number. Starting with 12-billion.
That’s a bit goofy but better than anything Siri can do. I repeated the same numbers in Spanish to Siri and all I got was, “Sorry, I’m still not sure about that.”
Google has a new feature that builds on other features to create an incredibly diverse and useful product that is free to use.
Where is Apple?
Try this one to Siri: “Hey, Siri… Knock, Knock.” Siri replies with a Knock Knock joke. Not bad.
Do the same thing to Google and the Assistant’s answer is something like, “Come on in, the door’s always open.” Then, “Would you like to hear a knock, knock joke?” My answer was yes. Assistant replied by telling me the entire joke, line by line, without interaction. Siri did real-time interaction.
Still, Apple needs to figure out a way to keep up with the Joneses.