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Image credit: Jon Fingas/Engadget

Microsoft's AI-powered offline translation now runs on any phone

Translator should be more accurate when you're traveling abroad.
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Jon Fingas/Engadget

Like many translation apps, Microsoft Translator has only used AI to decipher phrases while you have an internet connection. That's not much help if you're on a vacation in a place where mobile data is just a distant memory. Well, you won't have to sacrifice quality for much longer -- Microsoft has released offline language packs for Translator (currently on Android, iOS and Amazon Fire devices) that use AI for translation when you're offline regardless of your hardware. The move not only provides higher quality translations, but shrinks the size of the language packs by half. If you're a jetsetter, you might not have to shuffle language packs whenever you visit a new country.

The feature was available on a handful of Android phones with AI chips before, but Microsoft has optimized the algorithms to run on most any modern phone's processor.

The AI-capable offline packs are available in Translator's "most popular" languages, with more on the way. Windows device support is also in the cards. This certainly isn't the first use of offline AI, but it hints at what you can expect down the road. Now that many phones have processing power to spare, you might only need cloud-based AI for the most demanding tasks.

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