Whether you’re a globetrotter, language student, or business owner, tools like Google Translate and Microsoft Translator make it easier for everyone in the world to understand one another. But while both can translate text, speech, and images, they still each have their own quirks. So all aboard the showdown train! Next stop: translation station.
Before we dive in too deep and start comparing features, let’s take a quick glance at our tussling translation titans:
- Google Translate: A free translation tool from Google that can be used via browser, mobile browser, Android app, or iOS app. Both the browser and mobile browser versions can translate text and web pages, and the non-mobile browser can also translate some documents. The Android and iOS app can translate text, real-time speech, images, web pages, and even real-time video for some languages. There is also an API developers can use to build their own translation tools.
- Microsoft Translator: A free translation tool from Microsoft that can be used in your browser or mobile browser (via Bing Translator), and has apps for Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, and apps for Apple Watch and Android Wear. Additionally, Microsoft Translator can be integrated with other Microsoft applications, like Microsoft Office, Skype, and Visual Studio using the Microsoft Translator API (not free for business applications). The browser versions can translate only text and web pages, but the Microsoft Translator apps can work with text, real-time speech, and images.
Google Translate has long been the favorite when it comes to translation tools, but thanks to some major updates, Microsoft Translator (also known as Bing Translate) has been catching up in the last couple years. Now they’re both fairly comparable when it comes to functionality.
A translation tool shouldn’t only be measured by the number of languages it can translate, but it’s certainly a major component. The more languages the better. Google Translate’s 103 languages trumps Microsoft Translator’s support for 54 languages. But before we tally a point for Google Translate, it’s important to note that not every language in their catalogue has the same level of support.
Google Translate can handle 103 languages, but not every language works with every feature. For example, French can be translated using all six of Translate’s features: type, write, talk, snap, see, and offline (more on these later). Arabic works with everything but snap photos. And the Hausa language, which is mainly spoken in Nigeria, can only be translated via text. So it’s cool that Google Translate has such a wide range, but once you get outside of the more widely-spoken languages, the tool essentially becomes a vocabulary dictionary.
When it comes to Microsoft Translator’s 54 languages, it’s a similar story but on a much smaller scale. You can only use real-time speech translation for Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish for example. But 44 of Microsoft Translator’s 54 languages can be used offline, whereas Google Translate only supports about half of theirs for offline use. Google has more languages total, and has a few more available for offline use, but they’re both in the same ballpark when it comes to giving full translation support to the same popular languages.
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