Google Voice Translator “FAIL”

Transcribing Other Languages

A while ago, Google acquired a company called Grand Central and renamed its service Google Voice. Similar to gmail, you get a phone number and a voicemail inbox to use as an alternative to your home number.  If there are things that bother you about voice mail, then Google has the solution…almost! At around 18 seconds in they pitch that all voice-mails will be transcribed to text. Sounds great, but what about people who don’t speak English and want to leave voice-messages? No Problem! One of the more unique features is its ability to transcribe incoming voice messages and send them to you via email. But they haven’t nailed it down quite yet. Observe my most recent Voice Mail transcription.

Google Voice Mistake

“Hello thing that I’d get the is it that up about the delivery is scheduled in the good luck with at the demo what they put them on the, but it should take a minute and then and Billy Joel, Jeffrey about the like, 1. Bella lab either. Are you it’s not ok. The new it off. I was down at the same book again. I’m not going to think of them and then I will child. You done or give me that you don’t mind, I Mohammed okay and I’m guessing you’re.”

Want other examples? Check it DennyYunk,, and even some issues with transcribing English.

Fear Not…They’re working on it…I think?

I’m a bit concerned, considering all the hype about Google’s Real-Time Voice Translator. “Google engineers are working on a translator for Google Android smartphones to convert one language into another quickly enough to allow speakers without a common language to communicate with one another in near real time.” (Wired)

Their solution? On the bottom right they have an option that says “Transcript Useful”. When you click on it, it says the following…“Would you like to donate this voicemail to help us improve transcription? Want to help Google’s automated transcription get better? Donated voicemails will be listened to, manually transcribed, and used to improve our transcribing server’s accuracy. They are only used for this purpose.” And as with automatic text translation, what may begin as a fairly primitive technique will, Google hopes, become more sophisticated with the help of millions of users around the world. (DailyMail)

The Long Road Ahead

“It will be some time until we get to use live voice translation — probably in a “few years’ time,” Google’s head of translation services, Franz Och, told The Times. Despite “huge progress recently,” it’s still difficult to recognize various accents, Och explained. (PC World).

I’ve been following them since the days when it was called “Grand Central” and wasn’t owned by Google. My 1st blog (FreeCallReview) was about Free Web Activated VoIP services, I specifically mentioned Grand Central in 2007. That was 3 years ago…and they still have a ways to go.  David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at Bangor University, said the problems of dealing with speed of speech and range of accents could prove insurmountable. ‘No system at the moment can handle that properly,’ he added (DailyMail).

PS: Google, if you read this, my goal is simply to see you pay a little more attention to a potential GOLD MINE. Danke!

Posted under Social Networks