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On-screen Keyboards on Google Translate

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | 12:07 PM

Today Google Translate supports translation between almost sixty languages, but typing many of those on a standard QWERTY keyboard ranges from difficult to impossible. That’s why today we’re happy to announce the addition of on-screen keyboards to Google Translate. Whether you’re a native Georgian (ქართული ენა) speaker travelling abroad, or a student learning German with no way to type those tricky umlauts (ü), we hope this new feature will come to your rescue.

You’ll notice a small keyboard icon in the bottom corner of the text input box. Click this to open a virtual keyboard for the selected input language. You can either click the letters on the on-screen keyboard, or type using your real keyboard while the on-screen keyboard is visible.

Some languages such as Vietnamese and Armenian have more than one popular layout for local keyboards. Our on-screen keyboards support multiple layouts too, and you can switch between these layouts by clicking on the arrows at the top of the on-screen keyboard

To close the on-screen keyboard, simple click the small keyboard icon again.


With this launch, we’ve added on-screen keyboards for these languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Yiddish.

Some of you may be familiar with our “Phonetic typing” feature - for a few languages such as Arabic, you can type a word as it would sound in English (e.g. “marhaban”), and see the letters transformed to Arabic (e.g. مرحبا) before being translated. The new on-screen keyboards do not interfere with phonetic typing for languages that support both – when the keyboard is open, phonetic typing will be disabled.

We hope that this latest addition to Google Translate will make writing and communicating in foreign languages even easier. Please let us know if you have any feedback in our discussion group.

Posted by Frank Yung-Fong Tang, Senior Software Engineer