Google's Search app becomes 'pentalingual' with language switching

Google's Search app on Android now better caters to the billions of bilingual people in the world.

Speak Spanish and English, French and Mandarin, or Swedish and German at home? If you're bilingual, or speak several languages on a daily basis, Google's has updated its Search app on Android to make it a lot friendlier to use.

For the few billion people out there who speak more than one language, Google's Search app now understand when they change the language they're using.

Anyone who speaks any combination of the 50 languages Google supports in its Search app can now easily switch between languages when giving voice search commands to the app, or using Google Now to dictate an email.

Google's app previously only let users select a single, preferred language and if they wanted to switch languages, they would have to go back into Google settings and change the designated language.

Google's Search app version 3.6 now allows people to select up to five languages in the settings page, allowing them to switch back and forth across any of them making any manual changes — Google detects which language a person is using.

"So you can fire off a search for nearby restaurants in English, then dictate a text to your friend in French," David Eustis, a Google Android software engineer, explained on the company’s blog.

There are still some limitations: for example, users will need to stick to one language per sentence, though that may change in the future.

Also, whether Google gives a verbal reply depends on the language used and the query. Google is adding more languages and features over time, Eustis said.

To enable multiple languages in the Android Search app, users will need to open Google Settings, tap Search & Now, followed by Voice and from there check up to five preferred languages they would like Google to recognise. 

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