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

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

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

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TOPICS: Android, Google
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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. 

Read more on search 

Topics: Android, Google

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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6 comments
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  • Good news.

    About time tough. In other news, Cortana will soon be available in 2 languages, total.
    Sacr
    • They will get there

      Remember they are close to 2 years behind.
      I don't agree with their investment in the Chinese language though - maybe Spanish would be a better bet - there are more than 1 billion Chinese, but WP has very short chances there... chances of even get to 1% share.
      AleMartin
      • Chinese

        I can understand going with Chinese as second language. As you said it's a huge market and they have very low market share.
        Sacr
  • Impressive development

    We shall have to see how good it will be (the sarcky comment about Cortana from Sacr derives from apparent complete ignorance as to hard it is to handle different languages).

    I find Google Translate adequate in conveying the sense of a text but it still requires substantial correction for proper translation (and that is just for two related European languages) but I am still hugley impressed that a machine (GT) can do what it does.

    Even though this dictation service is not translation, interpreting to text different languages in one paragraph, let alone one sentence is pretty difficult.

    Impressive from anyone who can do it, where Google or Cortana. And we do not know the relative performance of each in the languages they both do.
    DAS01
  • Google = theives

    " Google's Search app becomes 'pentalingual' "

    - What that means is that they now have more ways to shaft your privacy.
    Owl:Net
    • Always the Tin Foil Man

      Hatin' Life I see.
      daikon