Google has something new for your wrist. Google Translate is now available on Android Wear, the competing answer to the Apple Watch. In the international community of today, the chances are very good that one time or another you will be faced with another person who does not speak your language, and you don’t speak theirs. The Google Translate system can make those easier. It works with 44 languages and is simple to use: you speak into the watch, turn your wrist, and Google Translate will give it back to you in another language. Whoever you’re speaking to can then read it off the watch and say their own response, which will be translated right back. The app automatically detects whatever language is being used, so there’s no need to specify which one ahead of time.
It’s on the tail of the release of 22 new faces for the Android Wear device. Unlike the ones before them, all of the new Google app faces are interactive. But the Google Translate device is being released only a month after Microsoft released a translation app for the Apple Watch and iPhone. Over 500 million people currently use Google Translate in one way or another, and it is able to translate 90 languages. (Not all of them are on the Android Wear app at present.)
Android Wear has been available since September, 2014. The system designed by Google was launched along with Motorola and LG smartwatches around the time the Apple Watch first came to stores. (The system had been in production for two years prior.) Since then, over 5.3 million smartwatches have been sold. Apple Watches make up 75 percent of that number, while the Android Watches like the Samsung watch only sold 7.5 percent of the total.
While the market is growing, many smartwatch users — both the Google-based Android watches and the Apple Watches — have complained that the devices are slow and cumbersome. However, Google has been making more of an effort to make those problems decrease, including the new faces and the translate function. (In contrast, the Apple Watch has kept a fairly simple interface for its entire time on the market.)
Will Google Translate, the more interactive faces, and voice commands allow smartwatches to finally break out to supplement or even replace smartphones? At this point it’s too soon to tell. But it can’t be denied that the new Google Translate feature is going to make the ones already out there a little more useful.
[Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images]