Over the last few months, while our data and languages specialists have been continuing their focus on improving language coverage and quality, the rest of the team doubled down on performance, infrastructure and bug fixing. After the big release at MIX we took the next release as an opportunity to focus on ensuring a strong foundation which can support the rapidly increasing demand for the service and fix any fit and finish issues that were postponed in the run up to that release.
A data center move, several significant user experience related performance improvements, a more scalable service infrastructure and a bunch of bug fixing later here we are with product offerings that are more performant than ever before. You may not be able to notice all the improvements, but a sampling:
Webpage Translator (Bilingual Viewer): The most visible change is the default “view” – the “translation-with-hover-original” is now the view you are presented with if you are a first time visitor. This is a change that is geared towards the most common usage scenario of the bilingual viewer where our users are looking to seamlessly translate and browse various web pages. The side-by-side view is still available just a click away, and we remember your preference of view once you switch from the default. We certainly have quite a few users who love the side-by-side view especially when using wider screens or learning a new language. You can learn more about the bilingual viewer in this blog post. Along with this change, we have been able to improve the load time, the translation time and reliability of translations on long pages. There was also a significant speed increase in English to Chinese (simplified) translation performance. Try it now!
Office: Those of you using the translation functionality in Office will also benefit from the performance related improvements. For those that haven’t tried it yet, you can right click on a selection within Office products and select “Translate” to have the text be translated instantly. In Office 2010, you should be able to do this without any configuration. You can check out the manual setup instructions for Office 2003 and Office 2007 in case you are unable to see Microsoft Translator powered translations in your Office install.
SSL (HTTPS) support: You are now able to securely send text to the translation service when using the API. We have also enabled the Widget to work seamlessly on SSL protected pages (without any security warnings). This has been a frequently requested feature from many of our users and we are glad to bring it to you in this release. Those of you who already generated widget snippets for your sites, should be able to get the HTTPS enabled widget by regenerating the snippet from the widget adoption portal. On the topic of the widget, the widget again works with Norwegian now.
Text to Speech: We have added Asian language support to our Text to Speech API and user focused features. You can now “Translate-and-Speak” in Korean, Japanese and Chinese! To try it, translate something to any of the languages that we support TTS in (Chinese , Korean and Japanese in addition to English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian) and you should see a speaker icon above the translation.
We took the all the great feedback that our users gave on the Collaborative Translations functionality (thank you for that!) and have made a number of improvements in both the user experience and how we handle input. Finally, many of you noticed that the dictionary functionality was turned off for a little while – now it is back!