Google Assistant has long been able to do quick, one-off translations — just say something like “Hey Google, how do I say ‘birthday’ in French?”
That doesn’t help much with actual conversations between people who speak different languages. For that, Google is building what they call “Interpreter Mode.”
If you speak English and want to have a conversation with someone who primarily speaks French, for example, you would trigger Interpreter Mode by saying “Hey Google, be my French interpreter.”
From there, the translation happens in both directions. Speak English, wait a second, and Google Home will repeat what you said but in French. When your friend responds, their French will be repeated back as English. It’ll work in 27 languages at launch.
Interpreter Mode will come first to Google Home speakers and smart displays like the Google Home Hub, the latter of which will also show you the text of your translated conversation on-the-fly.
It’ll be a fun trick in the home, but Google largely sees this being useful in retail or customer service. A hotel, for example, could place a smart display at the concierge desk, using it to better help their guests from around the world.
They’re rolling out a test run in a few different Vegas hotels at CES this week and it’ll roll out to everyone else after — though, as Google likes to do, they’re not getting super-specific about launch dates.