Google adds voice dictation support for 8 South African languages
Google has expanded its voice dictation feature for Translate to support nine more African languages in Gboard, the company revealed during its Google4Africa conference on Wednesday, 5 October 2022.
Eight of the nine new languages are official South African languages, including Ndebele, Xhosa, Northern Sotho, Swati, Sesotho, Venda, Tswana, and Xitsonga.
The remaining language is Kinyarwanda — one of the four official languages of Rwanda.
The Gboard keyboard app supports integration on various Android, iOS, and iPadOS apps on smartphones and tablets.
Its dictation feature listens to a user’s voice through the device’s microphone and automatically converts it into text that can be placed within an email, text message, or other areas of apps that allow for text input.
The addition of the nine new languages comes after Google added 24 new languages — including two spoken in South Africa — to its Google Translate tool in May 2022.
The addition of Sepedi and Tsonga brought Google Translate’s list of South African languages to seven.
At the time, it already offered translation to and from Afrikaans, English, Sesotho, Zulu, and Xhosa.
In addition to the two South African languages, Google also added 22 other languages.
Google also revealed that the 24 languages are the first to use its Zero-Shot Machine Translation machine learning model.
“These are the first languages we’ve added using Zero-Shot Machine Translation, where a machine learning model only sees monolingual text — meaning, it learns to translate into another language without ever seeing an example,” it said.
“While this technology is impressive, it isn’t perfect. And we’ll keep improving these models to deliver the same experience you’re used to with a Spanish or German translation, for example,” it added.
Google Translate now supports a total of 133 languages.