The incredible language translation feature of the Galaxy S24 AI surpasses the capabilities of my iPhone

Where is the library?

As a person who resides in Germany without a good understanding of the local language, language obstacles are a challenge I face more frequently than I would prefer. Furthermore, when I have the opportunity to travel abroad, I am often surprised to discover that English is not as widely understood as one might assume.

For instance, using English in a small town in southern Spain is not nearly as advantageous as using English in Barcelona. On the other hand, speaking English in northern England can be just as daunting for foreigners who believe they have a good grasp of the language.

However, the point being made is that language obstacles are indeed real, and breaking them down (or at least creating an opening in the barrier) can greatly improve communication between individuals.

Smartphones happen to be one of the most universal tools for “speaking” a language that you do not actually speak, and Samsung’s new Galaxy S24 and Google’s Pixel 8 appear to be the most powerful devices for this purpose, for now at least.

How? Well, I hate to throw around the biggest buzzword in tech right now but… It’s AI.

Live Translate, Interpreter, and Chat Assistant – the most vital trio of new Galaxy S24 AI features you’ll encounter

For those who are unfamiliar with the new language-related AI in the Galaxy S24 series, here is a brief description:
  • Live Translate is a two-way, real-time voice and text translation of phone calls within the native Samsung phone app. No third-party apps are required, and on-device AI keeps conversations completely private. It is worth noting that based on the tests I have seen so far, it won’t perform as well in loud environments, and when speaking in certain dialects.
  • The Interpreter feature in the Galaxy S24 (available on Pixel 8) allows for instant translation of face-to-face conversations on a split-screen view. It even works without cellular data or Wi-Fi, which is useful when traveling to remote locations. I have tried Google’s version of this feature on my Pixel, and the key seems to be timing – you have to start/finish speaking and wait for the phone to finish translating, and keep going back and forth.
  • Chat Assistant with AI built into Samsung Keyboard can automatically translate your text message conversations in real time, regardless of which messaging app you’re using. It is a system-wide feature, which means it’s not limited to working solely on Samsung’s Message app.

Potentially game-changing: How the language-focused AI in the Galaxy S24 can be useful to you in real life

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Of course, one of the factors that determines the effectiveness of these AI features is how useful they can be to you. I have used the Pixel 8 Pro for face-to-face interpreting once (German to English) and although it was a bit awkward for me and the handyman (if I recall correctly), it did the job!

Here are some other use cases for features like Live Translate and Interpreter:

  • Holiday – the most obvious use case scenario for a feature like Interpreter can be the difference between ordering a medium rare or a well-done steak, or going in the wrong direction
  • For immigrants who are still learning the local language, features like Live Translate, Interpreter, and text/document translation can be not just useful but essential – whether it’s a face-to-face appointment or a letter you need to translate
  • Doctor’s appointments are another setting where translation comes in handy; as someone who’s had to bring translated letters with symptoms to my GP, you could say Interpreter can be a life-saver.

Still, without a doubt, the most popular language-related Galaxy S24 feature will be the Chat Assistant, since we live in the age of texting. Then again, Live Translator and Interpreter are far more powerful, since they work with voice input, and can’t be replicated unless you have an actual interpreter present. However, Chat Assistant should save you a lot of time on a daily basis – at least if you’re someone who needs to type/text in a foreign language, which would normally involve opening Google Translate, typing your message, copying it, and then pasting it. I do this often when shopping on eBay, and have to communicate with sellers in German.

Challenges ahead of Google and Samsung’s magical language AI models: Will Artificial Intelligence make you Artificially Intelligent?

While Google and Samsung’s efforts to eliminate language barriers with their devices are impressive, it’s important to note that there are challenges – some more evident than others…

  • The algorithms and AI need to improve in understanding context and dialects, and while covering 13 of the most popular languages in the world is a good start, I’m pretty sure there are at least 15 languages, if not 18, in the world
  • People need time to get accustomed to using their phones for interpreting – especially the face-to-face kind. As wonderful as technology can be, it can also be…awkward; if not for you, then for the person on the other end.
  • Being able to translate everything (in the most popular languages) in a pinch can be a double-edged sword; for example, if you always rely on your phone to read/text/speak for and instead of you, the Artificial Intelligence might actually make you lazy, and hinder your general… intelligence
  • On a positive note, I believe that if you use AI as an auxiliary tool, it can actually help you learn a language even faster; of course, your experience may vary

The future of smartphones as tools for eliminating language barriers: Can the Galaxy, Pixel, and iPhone eventually eliminate the need for language learning apps like Babbel and Duolingo?

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To conclude on a futuristic note, I highly doubt this is the pinnacle of Google and Samsung’s ambitions in the area of language/translation AI.

While many new and specific features focused on language and translation could be anticipated, I believe the most important question might revolve around whether AI language models are aiming to become capable enough to serve as a real-life assistant (without being a real person), or to help you become your own language hero.

I have a hunch that the likes of Google, Apple, and Samsung might eventually implement language AI models/apps that compete with language learning apps like Babbel and Duolingo. In fact, Bing AI and ChatGPT are already changing the way we learn languages (see the video above).

Can AI help people learn new languages, which can be incredibly enriching on a socio-cultural level? Or will AI make us Artificially Intelligent and more reliant on our phones?

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