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Google’s next big project could give Duolingo a run for its money

Published Jun 17th, 2021 3:53PM EDT
Google Tivoli vs. Duolingo
Image: Kyodo/Newscom/The Mega Agency

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Google’s range of software already does a great job translating foreign languages, from text in images to news articles. Depending on what product you use, it’s done automatically, and it’s an incredible resource to have on hand on PC and mobile. Apple has been pushing similar features recently, announcing new translation features for its products a few days ago after adding translation support to Safari last year.

According to a new report, Google might expand its translation agenda beyond automated translations that are integrated into its products. Google Tivoli is the purported name of Google’s new service that would teach users how to speak a foreign language.

Google Translate is built into Chrome and Google Lens can help you understand a key piece of information written in a language that you don’t speak. Google’s automated translations might sound strange at times, depending on the original language, but they can at least help you understand vital information you might come across while searching. You are no longer limited to the languages you speak.

You can take the same experience on the road when traveling to a foreign country. Point a camera at a road sign or restaurant menu, and Google Translate will tell you what it says.

With Tivoli, Google might help users learn foreign languages just like Duolingo does. With more than 300 million users, Duolingo proves there’s a clear interest from consumers in learning a foreign language with the help of readily available technology. According to The Information, Google’s desire to help users learn a foreign language stems from its interest in smoothing conversations between humans and computers. Google did offer a few impressive LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) demos at Google I/O last month. But enabling that sort of dialogue in real-life use “remains a tall order,” the report notes.

Teaching people a foreign language might be an incremental step in conversational AI. Google plans to teach foreign languages online through Search, as Tivoli will initially work on text.

Google Tivoli is supposed to launch later this year, although it’s unclear how the service will look. Google is also working on adding the functionality to Google Assistant and YouTube. As MySmartPrice explains, Google might have technology in place to help with Tivoli. The company launched an app called Bolo in India to help children learn different languages. The app was launched as Read Along in over 180 countries last year. Tivoli could further build on that, as Google might build it into other products. As always, with rumors and leaks, there’s no guarantee that Tivoli will come out this year, and Google might always postpone the launch of unreleased products.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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