Google’s popular web-based language translation platform aptly dubbed Google Translate is a very popular online destination from desktop and mobile devices alike.
According to an announcement today from the Internet search giant, Google Translate now sees 200 million users… monthly. Lumped into the mix are numerous users across the globe who turn to the service routinely for no shortage of reasons and with exceptional frequency.
In fact, every day Google helps translate roughly as much text as that which is found in 1 million books.
And as the service prepares to officially turn six years of age this week, Google is boasting about the platform’s tremendous growth.
“In 2001,” says Franz Och, a research scientist with Google Translate, “Google started providing a service that could translate eight languages to and from English. It used what was then state-of-the-art commercial machine translation (MT), but the translation quality wasn’t very good, and it didn’t improve much in those first few years. In 2003, a few Google engineers decided to ramp up the translation quality and tackle more languages.”
But at that time our system was too slow to run as a practical service—it took us 40 hours and 1,000 machines to translate 1,000 sentences. So we focused on speed, and a year later our system could translate a sentence in under a second, and with better quality. In early 2006, we rolled out our first languages: Chinese, then Arabic.
“We announced our statistical MT approach on April 28, 2006,” he continues on the Google Translate Blog, “and in the six years since then we’ve focused primarily on core translation quality and language coverage. We can now translate among any of 64 different languages, including many with a small web presence, such as Bengali, Basque, Swahili, Yiddish, even Esperanto.”
Incredibly, of Google Translate’s 200 million monthly active users, 92% of them come from outside of the U.S.
“We imagine a future where anyone in the world can consume and share any information, no matter what language it’s in, and no matter where it pops up,” Och concludes. “We already provide translation for webpages on the fly as you browse in Chrome, text in mobile photos, YouTube video captions, and speech-to-speech “conversation mode” on smartphones. We want to knock down the language barrier wherever it trips people up, and we can’t wait to see what the next six years will bring.”