Well, it seems Google, everyone’s favorite Internet company, is trying to take another leap forward. This time on two fronts. For one, by promising language translation software that works right from your cellphone. And secondly, with their new social networking tool, Buzz.
Let’s talk cellphone interpreter first. The basic plan is to create software that can translate on the fly, letting us break through a few language barriers as we traipse across the globe. While this would be totally awesome, even with the ambiguous time-table of “a few years” away, I have my doubts on Google being able to accomplish such a lofty goal. Even the most advanced consumer voice recognition software has trouble with basic sentences, despite them being spoken in the most robotic, monotonous voice imaginable.
This sort of tool hasn’t even breached the voice-to-text wall, as can be shown on even the most advanced Google platform (Android 2.1). If a 1 GHZ powered smartphone (the Nexus One) operates (at best) like a lisp-impeded translator, then what hope does Google really have when dealing with not only dozens of languages, but hundreds of dialects? For me, it’s an unfounded hope. Because quite frankly, how cool would that be? Even if I don’t happen to visit other countries all that much, this is a smart step in the right direction and would absolutely love for the do-everything company to succeed.
So, what’s the word on Buzz? Well, it appears Google is taking very incremental steps to creating the smartest idea ever. First it was Gmail, then Google Docs, Wave and Talk, and now Buzz. Basically Buzz is a glorified Facebook status that acts like Twitter. You have followers and can post various things. There’s also your Gprofile that friends can look at.
What makes this different than anything else? Besides that Google is doing it? Well, it doesn’t seem like much, but it does appear that privacy is a big thing and you can choose to let people follow you or not. All in all, it’s another neat piece, but perhaps too little too late to be anything other than jumping on the bandwagon. Once again though, we’ll have to see what Google does with it.
With the company being so big, it’s no surprise they are constantly churning out new ideas. Sure, not all of them are going to be absolutely groundbreaking (though we expect them to be so, don’t we?), but what other single company is attempting to be so satisfying to, well, pretty much everybody. Capitalism might have its own problems, but Google is a shining example of how industry and big business should work and it seems there’s no quitting for the Internet giant. Who knows, maybe in 10 years we’ll all still have our earphones in — but instead of iPods, they’ll be plugged into our cell phones and we Americans wont be complaining so much about “them foreigners who don’t know English.” Because maybe then, they won’t need to.
Jon Schwarzmann is a technology correspondent for Rhombus.
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