The new translation app in iPadOS 15 includes a new machine translation feature, where conversations in two languages can be translated in real time.
Apple is set to offer a host of translation features on its next-gen macOS, iPadOS, and iOS operating systems this year, including system-wide text translation, on-device languages, and a new iPad translation app. The new app will allow users to write or speak text and translate into multiple languages, but it also adds a new conversation mode.
Conversation mode is intended to be used by two people sitting next to or facing each other, and shows what each person spoke with the translation underneath. Along with the new automatic translation feature, each person should be able to speak freely as the iPad recognizes the language and who is speaking. The translated conversation is automatically expressed in the appropriate language.
We tested the new Translator app in a live conversation from Spanish to English. At first the function was inconsistent, but downloading the languages locally to the device greatly improved its accuracy.
When trying the machine translation feature, we found that it would take a few minutes for the app to start hearing a speaker and cut off the microphone too soon. Moving to manually tapping the microphone icon for each speaker created a smoother experience.
When a person speaks, the Translator app displays a transcription in that language and a text translation underneath. After a few seconds, the app speaks the translation audibly. Using only one or two sentences at a time and making sure you speak clearly provides a good overall experience.
As this is the first developer beta of this software, it will most likely improve in the coming months. It’s a promising feature, and as it improves, it could allow two people, speaking two different languages, to have a long conversation in real time.
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