The planned app will use voice recognition technology and will translate instantly. Google reckons that it is just a matter of linking its already existing translation system and its voice recognition capabilities on smartphones.
At launch the software is expected to only be able to cope with small segments of speech, but the plan is to extend this so that the user can conduct entire conversations in another language.
Google’s head of translation services, Franz Och, told The Times: “We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years’ time.”
“Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on. If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently,” Och added.
Google admits that it will be a few years before this instant translator hits the average mobile, so it’s probably too soon to quit your language class just yet.