After toying with the feature for a couple of years, Twitter has officially added Bing Translator to its site, mobile apps for iOS and Android, and TweetDeck. Once users activate the tool in their account setting, they will see a little globe icon next to tweets in different languages. A translation appears below the original tweet once the globe is clicked.
The majority of Twitter users—77 percent—are based in countries outside the U.S., so it’s surprising that the site has taken so long to implement an in-line translation tool, which has been available on Facebook since 2011. An easy translation tool could potentially help companies that do marketing on Twitter reach more users without having to create separate accounts for different languages.
Twitter has run several experiments with the translation tool over the past few years, including adding the feature to TweetDeck earlier this month.
It was also added to Twitter’s mobile apps last year, but it proved to be unreliable and was quietly removed a couple months later.
In its announcement today, Twitter acknowledged that machine translations may be less than accurate, so it will display the original text above its translated version (though that is not particularly useful for people who can’t read the language in the first place).
This week has been a busy one for Twitter. In addition to the translation tool, it also launched its “While You Were Away” recap feature, which differs dramatically from the real-time experience Twitter is known for, and could potentially attract casual users who enjoy Twitter but don’t want to spend every waking minute glued to it to avoid missing out on conversations and tweets.
Twitter also confirmed the acquisition of India’s ZipDial, an interesting company that lets consumers call a number, hang up before they incur charges, and then receive a phone call or SMS with information about a business. ZipDial is designed to appeal to users in India, where data plans are relatively expensive, and may help Twitter build its business there.