Yandex Adds English UI To Its Translation App To Widen Its International Appeal

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Yandex, Russia’s ‘homegrown Google’, is adding an English interface to its Yandex.Translate app for iOS, along with support for more language translation pairs, in order to widen the app’s appeal and start building an international user-base. The original app launched in December with a Russian interface, offering translations between Russian and eight languages, including English, Ukrainian, Turkish, Czech, Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian.

As well as adding an English version of the app, Yandex has increased the supported English translation pairs from three options before (English<->Russian, English<->Ukrainian, English<->Turkish) to eight, with the addition of: English<->Spanish, English<->German, English<->French, English<->Italian and English<->Czech.

The majority of the app’s current translations – more than 85% – are between Russian and English, according to Yandex. And 98% of all downloads come from Russia and Ukraine. But the company claims there is “considerable interest” from mobile users in the U.S., China, France, the U.K. and Israel, which it hopes will grow now that it’s adding an English UI. In tandem it is also releasing a version of the app with a Ukrainian UI.

Yandex’s original online translation service rolled out two years ago, and the app is powered by the same machine translation technology. It automatically detects the source of the language, rather than the user having to specify from a list. Other features includes real-time translations as the user types, and a proprietary predictive text technology to reduce typo-based errors. There’s a text-to-speech component, powered by Acapela, along with the ability to sound translated words.  And while the app needs an Internet connection to function, translation history is stored locally on the device and can be accessed while offline.

Yandex Translate app

The (free) Yandex.Translate app has had more than 150,000 downloads since its launch in December 2012, according to the company. It says it’s getting almost 40,000 downloads every month on average, and serves more than 15,000 users — generating more than 100,000 translations every day.

Yandex has slowly been ramping up its efforts to push beyond its traditional stronghold of Russian and its neighbouring countries, while also bolstering its position in its home market.

Last year, for instance, it extended the reach of its digital mapping service, maps.yandex, launching international maps for Europe and the U.S. While in its home market the company launched its own Internet browser and an Android app store in a bid to keep Google at bay.