(Credit: Screenshots: Tom McNamara/Download.com)

With globalization comes the rise of increasingly international workforces, which can sometimes face organizational hurdles because of barriers in languages and dialects. With services like Google Translate (Android, iOS), you can quickly convert audio or text from one language to many others, and its integration with Google Lens allows you to collect that text from image data collected by your phone's camera.

SEE: Best apps to learn how to speak Spanish

Whether it's a sandwich board on a sidewalk in Paris, or a memo sitting on your desk, Google Lens can capture words and phrases visible in your camera's viewfinder, then plug them into Google Translate's cloud-based conversion engine. And according to a company spokesperson speaking with VentureBeat, Google has just added support for 13 more languages.

The new additions include Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, and Bengali, which together account for more than 1 billion native speakers -- not to mention those who speak these as a second language. That makes this one of the biggest updates to the Google Translate platform.

All 13 languages will also be benefiting from the company's "next-generation Neural translation technology," which is supposed to be smarter and faster than older methods. These 13 languages will also be able to translate between each other.

The Google spokesperson told VentureBeat that this neural tech uses "optical character recognition from Google Cloud Vision API." OCR is how scanning machines take a physical document and process its text to be put into a file on your computer. However, one side effect of relying on a cloud-based service is that it cannot be used offline.

The other newly supported languages are Vietnamese, Thai, Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Nepali, Tamil, and Telugu.

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Who does Google Translate compete with?

AI-based language translation is actually a big deal in the business world, in addition to being a welcome convenience for everyday app users and individual travelers. Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM have entire divisions dedicated to the challenge, and dozens of other companies such as Babylon and Omniscien Technologies work exclusively in this sector.

However, if you want the service in a handy app form, Google Translate is the de facto platform. It's arguably the best tool for translating languages throughout the day of an "average" user. The others are more optimized for corporations that need conversions of piles and piles of documents.


  • A Google spokesperson told VentureBeat that Google Translate's AI-based language conversion can now work with 13 more languages covering well over a billion native speakers.
  • The new additions are Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Vietnamese, Thai, Gujarati, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Nepali, Tamil, and Telugu.
  • Thanks to the AI-based translation, all 13 languages can be translated between one another.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.