Amazon adds Live Translation to Alexa’s toolbox of skills

Alexa is gaining the ability to do live translations between English and Spanish, German, French, Hindi, Italian, and Brazilian Portuguese with a new update Amazon announced today. The update joins Alexa’s expanded multilingual skills that were added in November to make the assistant a more capable non-English speaker and translator on devices in the US.

Live Translation can be initiated with a voice command like “Alexa, translate Spanish.” Alexa will play a beep to signal that you can start speaking with your partner and then translate your conversations live, even displaying a live transcript on the screen of Echo Show devices. Amazon sees this as being useful for talking with visiting friends and family from abroad or in a hotel setting through the Alexa for Hospitality platform.

In support of the new skill, Amazon also says it modified Alexa to better handle natural pauses in conversations, thanks to changes to Alexa’s tolerance for end-of-sentence breaks.

While we haven’t been able to give Alexa’s Live Translation a thorough test, the skill sounds very similar to Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode, which was originally announced in 2019. Our first demo of Interpreter Mode was admittedly rough, but at launch, Google attempted to handle 27 different languages, far more than Alexa currently supports, along with offering a similar ability to display a live transcript on devices like the Nest Hub. Whether Alexa is able to be more accurate and eventually support more languages seems to be where Live Translation can differ the most from Google’s offering.

Amazon says Alexa Live Translation is available now on Echo devices in the US.