At CES 2019, Google announced Interpreter Mode for Google Assistant. This new feature for its AI-based voice assistant allows users to translate speech in real-time between supported languages - the first speaker can speak in their native language, and the voice assistant will translate it to a second language that can be understood by the listener. Interpreter Mode for Google Assistant is now rolling out for select devices, including Google Home speakers, select smart speakers, and Smart Displays with Google Assistant support.
The feature was released alongside other software improvements that were announced at CES 2019, but is now rolling out on a wider scale. Users with Google Home speakers and other select devices will be able to try it out now. The function can be triggered by instructing Google Assistant to serve as the interpreter through a range of commands such as ‘Ok Google, be my Italian interpreter' or ‘Help me speak Spanish'.
The initial command must be given in one of six languages for now - English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Japanese are supported for now. However, the mode can work to translate between any of 26 supported languages. When active, the mode will immediately translate the spoken language and read out the translation for the listener. When no longer needed, Interpreter Mode can be switched off with another voice command.
The feature is built on top of Google Translate, which has vastly improved over the years and is now quite effective at offering basic translations from text. Google Assistant itself has grown in capabilities over the years, and is now widely considered as the best voice-based assistant for smart devices.