The Microsoft Translator app’s most accurate translations, powered by the company’s emphasis on artificial intelligence, are now available offline.
Microsoft Translator first allowed users to download entire languages for offline translations starting in 2016. But this new update focuses on AI-powered “neural translation technology,” which the company says produces translations that are 23 percent more accurate than the previously available offline packs.
The technology is also open to third-party developers, allowing them to integrate AI translations into their apps.
Offline capabilities are available now on Android devices and iOS devices by the end of the week. Ironically, the update is available on the Amazon Fire devices made by Microsoft’s cross-town rival, but it is not on Windows devices yet.
Microsoft has spent the last two years reducing the computing power needed to run these higher quality translations. When the technology debuted in 2016, it took so much power it could only run online. Then last year, Microsoft teams were able to distill down the translation tech so that it could run on specific Android phones equipped with a dedicated AI chip. Recent improvements to the algorithm mean the offline translation capabilities can now run on pretty much any smartphone.
Breaking down communication barriers has been a big priority at Microsoft for years and an important part of the company’s AI push. One of the latest examples came last month when Microsoft unveiled what it called the first machine that can translate parts of news stories from Chinese to English as well as humans can.