How to translate live conversations with Google Assistant using its built-in Interpreter Mode

  • You can translate conversations with Google Assistant in up to 44 languages by using its Interpreter Mode, which is built into the Google Assistant app. 
  • Google Assistant is an artificial intelligence-based program, similar to Siri and Alexa, that has the capability to translate a conversation in real-time, among many other things. 
  • Its Interpreter Mode is now available on iOS devices and Androids, in addition to smart speakers and tablets. 
  • Currently, Interpreter Mode can only be used online, unlike Google Translate.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Google Assistant is a virtual assistant, similar to Siri and Alexa, that is fueled by artificial intelligence to perform various tasks. The company calls it "your own personal Google" — the artificial intelligence component, much like its search engine, brings the internet to you and answers your questions. 

You can ask Google Assistant to play music, look up sports scores, search for directions, and even control your home through its smart devices. Google Assistant is available on many "smart" platforms, including smartphones, Google Home speakers, tablets, and displays.

Real-time translation is among its many features and is particularly helpful when traveling abroad and navigating conversations with language barriers. After getting Google Assistant's attention (just say "Hey Google"), command it to be your translator in any language. Interpreter Mode will automatically be activated. 

We'll show you how to both use this feature and troubleshoot potential problems.

How to translate conversations with Google Assistant

Google Assistant for phones and tablets has a few more language options than the version for smart speakers and displays, one being Urdu, the official national language of Pakistan. 

1. If you're using an iPhone, you'll need to download the Google Assistant app from the App Store. (It's already included in the operating system on Androids.)

2. Open the app and say "Hey Google" or hit the microphone icon. The AI is now listening.

3. Say something like "Be my French interpreter," "Interpret from English to French," or "Turn on Interpreter Mode."

4. Google Assistant will ask you what languages you want to be translated if you haven't yet specified. Depending on your settings, it can also detect the language according to your location. 

5. You'll hear a tone when translation mode is on. Just start talking. The AI will know which language is being spoken.

6. You can also set it so that the keyboard types out the translations instead of speaking them. 

7. Swipe from left to right to turn off interpreter mode, or say "Stop."

How to fix potential issues with Google Assistant

Artificial intelligence-powered technology isn't always perfect, so there's a chance you may run into issues while using Google Assistant.

Google Assistant won't recognize every command. The following will not activate Interpreter Mode:

  • "Translate."
  • "Speak French" (or any language).
  • "Can you speak French?" (or any language).

Remember to wait for the tone before speaking or Google Assistant may not catch everything you say. Also, double check that your device is compatible with Interpreter Mode.

Remain close to your device while speaking, speak clearly, and make sure your pronunciation is correct. Otherwise, Google Assistant may translate you incorrectly.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

  • How to change your Google Assistant voice across your Google devices

  • A full list of Google voice commands you can use with Google Assistant to make everyday tasks easier

  • A comprehensive list of Siri voice commands you can use on an iPhone

  • How to use Google Translate offline, so you can get accurate translations no matter where you are

  • How to use Gboard's translate feature on an Android device to translate text as you type it

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