Your pocket interpreter: Android Marshmallow phones and tablets get in-app translations

With Android 6.0 just out, Google has taken the wraps off a nifty time-saver that will help users read and respond to text in languages they don't speak.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Google
If you've found yourself continually switching between apps and Translate to understand foreign language text, Google's Android Marshmallow has the answer.

On Android 6.0 Marshmallow, users will now be able to translate text within some popular apps like TripAdvisor, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn, making it far more convenient to read foreign reviews or respond to people, even if you don't speak the same language.

For the feature to work, you will need to have the Translate app installed but you will not need to flip to it when you want to translate text. Instead, you simply highlight the text within, say, WhatsApp and the option to translate will now appear alongside the cut, copy, and paste options in the pop-up menu.

Apps that have the feature enabled will be able to translate text from 90 different languages. The new feature follows Google's recent update to Translate that enables live visual translation from the camera in the iOS and Android app.

Google notes the feature is enabled in apps that use Android text-selection behaviour, which is unique to Android Marshmallow. Given this requirement, it's unlikely the handy feature will come to iOS any time soon.

Image: Google
The other update that enables translation within apps came last month with the release of Google Translate 4.3, which included system-wide translation for Marshmallow, as Android Police reported at the time.

Apart from Nexus device owners, few Android users would currently have Marshmallow but over the coming months many Lollipop users will be able to enjoy the feature as handset makers roll out Marshmallow updates to flagship devices.

Google on Tuesday also updated its Android distribution figures which show that Android Lollipop 5.1 now makes up 7.9 percent of the world's 1.4 billion Android devices.

Overall, Lollipop accounts for 23 percent, KitKat runs 38 percent of devices, and Jelly Bean makes up 30 percent. Usually, it takes a few months for the latest version of Android to show up on Google's Android distribution chart.

Google has provided instructions for developers keen to add the feature to their own apps in a post on its Android developer blog.

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