We’re well used to Google announcements triggering “Wait, you’re what now?” reactions, but their latest alpha not only takes the cake but starts a bakery with it. Google Translate is already an incredibly useful tool, but the alpha translation application for Android now lets people speak to each other in different languages. As an alpha version it’s incredibly limited, translating only between English and Spanish (and with all the comedy Babel fish approximations we’re used to in automatic translation), but the fact is, the product is out there, right now, while other people are still talking about it perhaps becoming possible.
Here’s how it works: you speak into your phone, Google translates it, and replays the message in your target language. In this way two people without a word in common could hold a conversation, passing the Android phone back and forth like a combination of peace pipe and universal translator. It’ll be a while before it can handle philosophical debates on the nature of reality, but would be of incalculable help for tourists and travellers. Anyone interested in the future of phones should check this out at the very start, and keep an eye on the progress of one of the most exciting events in communications.