While we are quite proud of the applications and services that we have built, we are even prouder of the many wonderful applications built by our partners using our extensive set of APIs. In this series, we wish to highlight some of these apps.
Polyglot – an elegant Windows Phone translator application
You might have used the free Translator app on the Windows Phone marketplace, but you should definitely give Polyglot from Very Software a try. With a beautiful interface that works in either orientation and delivering translations on the go – Polyglot is undoubtedly one of the best looking Windows Phone applications in the market.
Kywix Babilia HD – a highly functional application for iPad which offers translation and more
One of the fast growing applications that is well optimized for the larger touchscreen. Integrates with Dropbox for source material, and with Facebook and Twitter for quick sharing of translated content. Check out the various elegant touches – including the capability to translate PDF, learn new vocabulary and tv-out support.
There are many other free and paid applications built using Microsoft Translator APIs - we would love to hear of any others you would like showcased here.
What do Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Indonesian have in common? They all have very passionate communities that have for a while been encouraging our team to add support for these languages. A glance at the comments on this blog, and on our forums show the enthusiasm with which users have pursued adding these languages, and that has spurred our team on to work hard towards this goal.
We are proud to announce that with our latest release, we added these three languages to bring our total number languages to 35. The Microsoft Translator machine translation system can now deliver translations in the following languages:
This means that you can use the Bing Translator text and web page translation functionality in all these languages.
You can also translate text and documents between these languages from within Office. To see these languages in your Office translation language list, you would need to have the LIP (Language Interface Pack) for that language installed. More details here.
Personally, I am quite excited at being able to follow what my friends are saying in these languages on Facebook and Twitter (by using the visual preview of the Internet Explorer accelerator)!
Finally, you can also deliver your web pages to your site users using the Microsoft Translator widget. Not only that, with the collaborative translations feature you can tailor the translations to best suit your content. You can try it on this blog right now – translate to a different language, hover to see the popup that shows the original sentence and click “More Translations” to edit/select the translation to be delivered.
We continually work on improving all our languages, so if you notice the engine not providing the best translation today – you might want to try again in a few weeks to see if it’s improved. For those of you using the API or the widget to translate content in your applications or on the web, you can always use the collaborative translations functionality to make edits to the machine generated translations today (so you don’t have to wait).
Once again, if you are part of our one of these three communities – congratulations on working with us to “ship” these new languages! We will continue working towards adding more languages in upcoming releases.
We will look forward to hearing from you (please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also interact with the community on our forums.
Over the last few months, while our data and languages specialists have been continuing their focus on improving language coverage and quality, the rest of the team doubled down on performance, infrastructure and bug fixing. After the big release at MIX we took the next release as an opportunity to focus on ensuring a strong foundation which can support the rapidly increasing demand for the service and fix any fit and finish issues that were postponed in the run up to that release.
A data center move, several significant user experience related performance improvements, a more scalable service infrastructure and a bunch of bug fixing later here we are with product offerings that are more performant than ever before. You may not be able to notice all the improvements, but a sampling:
Webpage Translator (Bilingual Viewer): The most visible change is the default “view” – the “translation-with-hover-original” is now the view you are presented with if you are a first time visitor. This is a change that is geared towards the most common usage scenario of the bilingual viewer where our users are looking to seamlessly translate and browse various web pages. The side-by-side view is still available just a click away, and we remember your preference of view once you switch from the default. We certainly have quite a few users who love the side-by-side view especially when using wider screens or learning a new language. You can learn more about the bilingual viewer in this blog post. Along with this change, we have been able to improve the load time, the translation time and reliability of translations on long pages. There was also a significant speed increase in English to Chinese (simplified) translation performance. Try it now!
Office: Those of you using the translation functionality in Office will also benefit from the performance related improvements. For those that haven’t tried it yet, you can right click on a selection within Office products and select “Translate” to have the text be translated instantly. In Office 2010, you should be able to do this without any configuration. You can check out the manual setup instructions for Office 2003 and Office 2007 in case you are unable to see Microsoft Translator powered translations in your Office install.
SSL (HTTPS) support: You are now able to securely send text to the translation service when using the API. We have also enabled the Widget to work seamlessly on SSL protected pages (without any security warnings). This has been a frequently requested feature from many of our users and we are glad to bring it to you in this release. Those of you who already generated widget snippets for your sites, should be able to get the HTTPS enabled widget by regenerating the snippet from the widget adoption portal. On the topic of the widget, the widget again works with Norwegian now.
Text to Speech: We have added Asian language support to our Text to Speech API and user focused features. You can now “Translate-and-Speak” in Korean, Japanese and Chinese! To try it, translate something to any of the languages that we support TTS in (Chinese , Korean and Japanese in addition to English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian) and you should see a speaker icon above the translation.
We took the all the great feedback that our users gave on the Collaborative Translations functionality (thank you for that!) and have made a number of improvements in both the user experience and how we handle input. Finally, many of you noticed that the dictionary functionality was turned off for a little while – now it is back!
We hope you enjoy all the improvements and new additions. Post your feedback or questions on our developer and user forums.
There have been many stories about brain vs. brawn. More recently, human brain and computer brawn have been pitted against each other in arenas such as one-on-one chess. We all have been hearing about applying large amounts of computing power to solve problems like translation by sheer force. As a high performance cloud service offered by Microsoft, we continue to make investments in such processing power – but we also know that no matter how many machines you throw at translation, it is still impossible to get the correct, error-free, contextually accurate translation every time. With the clear understanding of how it would be a much better outcome for our users and partners, we have been hard at work exploring ways of putting together the might of the machines and the power of human understanding. The first wave of innovations focused on our partners and users was what we called “Anywhere Translations”.
Welcome to the next wave of innovation – Collaborative Translations.
Microsoft is pleased to announce, the availability of the Collaborative Translations Framework – a technology that combines the scale and speed of automatic machine translation with the accuracy and context awareness of human translation. At MIX 2010, we are announcing the latest version of our translation API (v2) and built on top of that, a new version of the pioneering translator widget that we released a year ago. In addition to bringing real-time, in-place translations to your web site, the Microsoft Translator web page widget v2 adds collaborative features that help tailor the translations delivered to fit your site.
In addition to the collaborative features powered by the Collaborative Translations Framework, the V2 of the Microsoft Translator API includes a “batch” interface to translate large amounts of data, support for communicating with the service securely via SSL and the addition of “Translate-and-Speak” – a text-to-speech functionality. We are also adding an enhancement to our Bing Translator user site, where you can use the “Translate-and-Speak” functionality whenever you translate into one of the supported languages.
What is being announced today:
1) A simple to adopt, highly customizable widget that site owners and webmasters can place on any webpage – and it not only helps to instantly make the page available in multiple languages, it also allows the owners with the help of their community or professional translators to tailor the the translations to their site’s content.
2) A broad set of powerful translation APIs in SOAP, HTTP and AJAX flavors so that developers can pick the best one to fit their requirement. Functionality includes language detection, single and batch translation, collaborative translations and text to speech. All you need to get started is a Bing Developer AppID. In addition, we are also announcing the Microsoft Translator Silverlight control for translation will be available as part of the Silverlight toolkit.
3) An update to Bing Translator translation service, which adds the “Translate-and-Speak” functionality for a set of languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian). Perform a translation on the site and you will notice a speaker icon to click on to hear it spoken.
Who is it for:
The APIs are for anyone that would like to bring translations to their app or site. Some developers have used the APIs to deliver applications that can deal with content in multiple languages, and others have used them to localize their applications. Designers have used them to make sure their designs work in many locales, and enterprises have used them to translate documents. Phone application developers might find the cloud text-to-speech API particularly interesting, as they develop hands-free scenarios.
What is cool about it:
Fun! What does it cost:
The widget is completely free for use on commercial or non-commercial sites. Instead of expensive localization whose costs are incremental if a site has changing content, the translator widget brings a no-cost option to site owners. Depending on their needs, site owners can choose to invite their chosen translators to come help improve the translations delivered to their site.
The APIs are also available at no cost to developers and partners. For high volume commercial use, email email@example.com.
How do I get it:
Each MIX 2010 attendee gets an exclusive invite code in their attendee bags to enable Collaborative Translations features in their widget. If you are not attending MIX, you can still get a widget for your site, and add yourself to the Collaborative Translations feature invite list. We will be sending invites as soon as some more become available.
What we are working on:
I can’t get it to work or I have encountered a bug. Where can I get support or provide feedback?
Given the pre-release nature of the new functionality you might encounter glitches as we work towards adding new features. The known issues list is available here. If there is an issue that you encounter which is not in the list, we would love it if you could let us know. You can either use our forums, or directly contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can this save me the cost of doing expert localization of my professional website?
Expert localization is an extremely important and valuable aspect of doing business globally. We have always encouraged our users to take advantage of the exceptional quality of translations provided by an expert translator for mission critical content that needs to be localized. For those of you who are looking for a low cost way to localize content that you might not otherwise have localized, or for content that is rapidly changing (and not cost effective to use expert localization) – our machine and human collaborative translations option could come in handy and save money.
How many languages do you support? When can you add support for <insert language here>?
We continually work on adding new languages – since last MIX we added 17 new languages bringing us to 30. Here is the list of languages we currently support:
You can always find the latest list of languages here.
We are looking to work with providers of hosted services to make adding the widget an easy process for their users. If your provider does not offer this, please let them and us know that you would like to see the widget work with your site.
Those of you who are at MIX 2010 can dive deeper into these technologies at our session (Monday 3/15, Lagoon H at 2:00 PM). We will also be posting in-depth information about the various aspects of today’s announcement in the next few days. Keep checking this post and our forums for further announcements, known issues and more information. You can follow our MIX10 coverage on twitter.
It’s nearly midnight in Seattle. The team is heads down in preparing the service for MIX 2010… I am sitting in the office wondering which of my 100 to-do items I should tackle next. So, naturally, I do something that’s not on that list. Something fun. :)
As I mentioned in my earlier post, MIX is our favorite conference and so we put “money where our mouth is” (let’s see a machine translation system deal with that one!) and said an enthusiastic yes when the team asked us to be a sponsor. All you lucky MIX attendees will see some awesome swag in your bags courtesy Microsoft Translator, with one of the highlights being a lovely decal for your notebook/pad/device.
Everyone liked the design we came up with for it so much that we decided to make a wallpaper out of it for you. So, without further ado:
Once again, don’t forget to come to our session on Monday at 2 PM at Lagoon H and also visit our Showcase demo area at The Commons.
- Vikram Dendi, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Translator