back to article Google touts Babel Fish-esque in-ear real-time translators. And the usual computer stuff

Google today showed off some new Android phones, a laptop, two Home assistants, and a genuine surprise: a set of earbuds that attempt to emulate Douglas Adams’ legendary Babel Fish – a real-time language translator. During the hardware unveiling, an event dubbed Made by Google, in San Francisco a few hours ago, CEO Sundar …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No audio jack

    Waterproof is great, but here's the question to ask yourself: how often do I use my phone in the pool, and how often do I use my earphones/earbuds?

    1. getHandle

      Re: No audio jack

      Personally I'd love to be able to take my phone jogging in the rain without worrying about it getting wet. My bluetooth sports headset is already waterproof...

      1. jaywin

        Re: No audio jack

        If they can waterproof the USB-C, I see no reason they can't do it to a headphone jack.

        1. Unep Eurobats

          Re: No audio jack

          Don't call me...

          No, you've heard that one too many times already.

          Er, nice-looking phones.

        2. paulf Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: No audio jack

          @ jaywin "If they can waterproof the USB-C, I see no reason they can't do it to a headphone jack."

          Exactly. Google and Apple (to name two) are massive companies worth billions and with billions in the bank. I can't believe for a second that they couldn't develop, or find someone who could develop, a 3.5mm jack with suitable water resistance if it can be done for the USB-C/Lightning ports. I accept omitting the 3.5mm jack means they have more flexibility on device thickness and have a little more space inside the unit, but, as said by another in this thread, people are more likely to use their 3.5mm ear buds than go swimming with their phone. Also there aren't many people complaining their phone ought to be another mm thinner. This is all about pulling people further into the walled gardens and ensuring they cannot use their existing accessories while in there.

          1. druck Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: No audio jack

            paulf wrote: I accept omitting the 3.5mm jack means they have more flexibility on device thickness and have a little more space inside the unit,

            There is always the option of using a 2.5mm jack, which became common when pre-touchscreen phones got really small. All existing headphones will work with an inexpensive adapter that can remain attached to the headphones.

            1. paulf Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: No audio jack

              @ druck "There is always the option of using a 2.5mm jack,"

              True, but it takes us straight back to the same problem - having to use an adaptor to get standard 3.5mm kit to work with it. Existing headphones should work with a USB-C/Lightning to 3.5mm jack adaptor too. The pain is having to use an adaptor at all.

        3. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: No audio jack

          I have a Samsung phone (XCover4) that has removable battery, headphone jack, micro usb and it's IP68. Yes it might be easier to make the phone waterproof without the headphone jack but it sounds (to me) like you've wimped out if you do.

        4. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: No audio jack

          "If they can waterproof the USB-C, I see no reason they can't do it to a headphone jack."

          It's nothing to do with waterproofing, despite El Reg constantly bringing it up. There are already a variety of devices around that manage to be waterproof despite having open 3.5mm sockets. If anything, it's much easier than the USB socket - the Xperia Z1 had a rubber seal for the USB, but the 3.5mm socket was just open (just a shame about the shit build quality that meant the glass panels peeled off the front and back; the sockets were the only parts that actually stayed waterproof).

          Getting rid of headphone sockets is done for precisely one reason - cost. It's one less part that needs designing and buying, and takes up space that makes fitting the rest of the internals more difficult. The move is happening now because, presumably, it's finally reached the point where bluetooth speakers are popular enough anyway that the cost savings more than offset any lost sales.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: No audio jack

            "The move is happening now because, presumably, it's finally reached the point where bluetooth speakers are popular enough anyway that the cost savings more than offset any lost sales."

            So basically they reckon they can do without me. Well, the feeling is mutual.

          2. paulf Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: No audio jack

            @ Cuddles "Getting rid of headphone sockets is done for precisely one reason - cost."

            I don't believe for one second a headphone jack that costs, what, two bucks in parts and assembly costs (lets say 3 bucks if you add in design cost shared across millions of devices) is going to make any tangible difference on a handset costing £800-£1000. Even if they did put up the price by a tenner to compensate it wouldn't matter - people buying flagship phones aren't usually that price conscious, hence "Cupertino Idiot-tax operation".

        5. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Re: No audio jack

          Sony manage it with their Experia phones, so waterproofing shouldn't be an excuse to remove a perfectly useful piece of kit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No audio jack

      My wife was seriously thinking of abandoning Apple when they dropped the headphone jack from their flagship devices, but bought a "budget" (ho ho) iphone SE when she discovered they still had a 3.5mm audio jack.

      Google, please take note. I'm an Android user, and I want a 3.5mm headphone jack too.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: No audio jack

      Also, how often do I need to charge the phone at the same time as I'm listening to something?

      1. JamesPond

        Re: No audio jack

        USB-C and bluetooth headphones are the future. Personally I'm going to stick with wired headphones because they always work. I did have a pair of bluetooth headphones but I didn't use them for about 2 months and when I tried to recharge them, they wouldn't so I had to throw them away.

        1. Real Ale is Best

          Re: No audio jack

          What I'm waiting for here is bluetooth headphones that can be charged from the phone via USB-C power transfer. Seems an obvious thing to be able to do....

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: No audio jack

        Every time I'm on a long trip. I'd like to watch movies, listen to music, and not arrive with a dead battery.

    4. Kiwi Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: No audio jack

      Waterproof is great, but here's the question to ask yourself: how often do I use my phone in the pool, and how often do I use my earphones/earbuds?

      When I was like 8 years old (ie damned near 40 bloody years ago!) I had a waterproof radio that had a headphone jack. The jack was sealed, basically a standard one coated in rubbed IIRC. This was in the '80s. Surely firms with the tech knowhow that Google has must have someone who can figure that out. If not, Google, I am currently seeking work and I can design lots of trivially simple ways for you to waterproof stuff!

      It really is trivially easy to do.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No audio jack

      If you ever drop your non waterproof phone in a urinal you will appreciate the dilemma of a phone that can't survive a thorough wash afterwards.

      1. big_D Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: No audio jack

        If I drop the phone in a Urinal, I don't think I want to use it afterwards...

      2. paulf Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: No audio jack

        @AC "If you ever drop your non waterproof phone in a urinal"

        Why are you using your phone while standing at a urinal? Perhaps if you were concentrating on the, ahem, task in hand you wouldn't have dropped the phone?

      3. Kiwi Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: No audio jack

        If you ever drop your non waterproof phone in a urinal you will appreciate the dilemma of a phone that can't survive a thorough wash afterwards.

        If I ever drop my phone in the urinal, I will appreciate the joy of buying the cheapest phones I can find, and leave it there! :)

        I had a friend who went through a period of dropping phones in toilets, very expensive as the phones didn't survive. Taught him 2 simple tricks to stop that. 1) don't be on the phone (and perhaps don't take it in with you), 2) put it in a closed pocket that has a zip or other fastener. True, with some guys they may want to do some "left handed surfing" on their phone while in the bog, but that's their problem if they loose control of things. If they can't handle things safely they should learn not to play with them in there!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No audio jack

      Waterproof 3.5mm?

      Ahem Google.

      https://www.petervis.com/walkmans/Sony_WM-B52/Sony_WM-B52.html

      Guess that's what you get when you employ kids who like to sit on bean bags all day.

  2. JaitcH
    Thumb Up

    Well Done, Google, From The Large Unilingual Traveller Road Warriors Gang

    In VietNam almost every cab / taxi has a dash-mounted Android device that translates between English and Tieng Viet. Without the Google translation facility life would be much harder.

    Now I will buy a Chinese smartphone with Android N software when the Babel earbuds go on sale.

    Thank you, Google. (But I still use DuckDuckGo)

    1. Not also known as SC

      Re: Well Done, Google, From The Large Unilingual Traveller Road Warriors Gang

      "In VietNam almost every cab / taxi has a dash-mounted Android device that translates between English and Tieng Viet. Without the Google translation facility life would be much harder."

      This is an excellent idea and as a use for a native speaker trying to understand / speak foreign languages like you've described, full kudos for whoever first thought of it.

      However I get the impression that the standard use scenario envisaged will involve a foreign language speaker using the phone to translate the native language to what ever language they speak, for example an English speaker going to Japan and using the phone to translate Japanese into English. Isn't this going to fall foul of the problem associated with all internet based technologies, it'll cost a fortune in roaming data costs?

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Well Done, Google, From The Large Unilingual Traveller Road Warriors Gang

      I hope it does a better job than the translation between German and English. I was tight for time and thought I'd bung some English text through Translate to save time...

      After falling off my seat laughing, I finally translated it by hand.

      One of the problems that Translate has is formal English. It seems to work better with American slang than proper English. Terms like "do not" translated into "do this", whereas "don't" translated properly. I put in a bunch of changes at the time and it seems that Translate is now better, but I still wouldn't trust it with anything important or where a misunderstanding could be dangerous.

      Having it translate things like "do not open the case, high voltage inside" being translated into "open the case, high voltage inside" are funny at first glance, but dangerous.

      Hilarious on the other hand was "do not open the case, no user servicable parts inside", which ended up with the German equivalent of "open the case, no parts inside"!

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Well Done, Google, From The Large Unilingual Traveller Road Warriors Gang @big_D

        When did you try this test?

        Today Google gives: Öffnen Sie nicht den Fall, keine benutzerfreundlichen Teile im Inneren, which at least keeps the proper negatives, even though the parts switch from being user-serviceable to user-friendly.

        So: same conclusion — don't trust — but it's clear that they continue to work on it.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Well Done, Google, From The Large Unilingual Traveller Road Warriors Gang @big_D

          I did post corrections to the sample I gave, although not what you got. It is improving, but these sorts of problems seem all to common, at least in English <-> German. I have worked as a translator for an agency and there are good tools that you can use for translation, like Leo, Linguee etc. but the actual translation sites are all pretty poor.

          They might be okay for getting directions or simple sentences, but you shouldn't rely on them for anything important.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well Done, Google, From The Large Unilingual Traveller Road Warriors Gang

        formal english may have not been correctly translated whenever you tryed it, but now it correctly translates your phrase to "öffnen Sie nicht den Fall, Hochspannung innen"

    3. B Bunter

      Re: Well Done, Google, From The Large Unilingual Traveller Road Warriors Gang

      Excellent! Now when a foreign person doesn't understand what we are saying, simply repeating what was said before only louder and more slowly might actually work.

  3. AceRimmer1980
    Coat

    It's a dead giveaway, isn't it

    No, it appears you have to buy them separately.

  4. The Count
    Happy

    Given the sick sense of humor at Google you just know that all translations are going to come through in the voice of Arthur Dent.

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge
      Coat

      The late Dent Arthur Dent

      Given the sick sense of humor at Google you just know that all translations are going to come through in the voice of Arthur Dent.

      That would make the service totally utterly awesome!

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge

      I for One would prefer them actually using the voice of Peter Geoffrey Francis Jones.... For obvious reasons.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        What about the late James Alexander Gordon?

    3. richsouth

      I would have thought Marvin The Paranoid Android would have been a better voice to use

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        I suspect device owners want to keep their Devices nice, and happily chugging along. Poor 'ol Marvin would cause them to permabrick themselves.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Megaphone

          For the hard of hearing, I would put forward Brian Blessed

          (actually, Brian wouldn't need no steenking megaphone)

          I suddenly have this vision of smoke issuing from the earbuds. Can't think why

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Google - don't talk to me about Google!

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        "Marvin The Paranoid Android would have been a better voice to use"

        sadly, his voice actor [in the movie, anyway] is no longer available for that role...

        (otherwise, it'd be AWESOME!)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My Hovercraft is full of eels.

    Hungarian Inflamatory Phrasebook Sketch

    ' I quote an example. The Hungarian phrase meaning "Can you direct me to the station?" is translated by the English phrase, "Please fondle my bum."'

    It's a Google Product, so obligatory "What could possibly go wrong ? ".

    But, seriously, take one step back, and realise that this is just another Stasi Wet Dream bugging device - there has to be a central server everything goes back and is recorded (for ever).

    ... and who's to say that it's not recording all the time ?

    Eyes and Ears.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My Hovercraft is full of eels.

      and by the time the appropriate recording has been retrieved, the terrorist with a shopping list (google, take me to the nearest diy store, then the supermarket, and on the way back let's take a tour of that army base) will have been long GONE! OMG, we've got to do something about it! ;)

    2. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: My Hovercraft is full of eels.

      But, seriously, take one step back, and realise that this is just another Stasi Wet Dream bugging device - there has to be a central server everything goes back and is recorded (for ever).

      Never saw it like that! Storing audio takes a lot of space, storing text takes very little. If you can build voice recognition systems that can do a "stand up in court" level of converting speech to text.

      Of course, text loses all sorts of information like tone and inflection (and background noises), and people tend to replace those with what they imagine fits.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: My Hovercraft is full of eels.

        You still think they are storing audio/text? At this point they can just store the meta data... and presume from that. ;)

        (As a note, look at Youtube content ID or the current voice to text, the system does not process images/audio etc the same as a human... well, not until you get to the neuron level.)

  6. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    If I am squeezing the sides of the device

    its because I am trying to choke the assistant to death, not request its presence

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      It looks like you're squeezing your phone.

      Would you like help?

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Sure thing Clippy. Just let me unbend you into a U shaped bit of wire. So as to gauge the Assistants virtual eyes out.

        1. Adam 1 Silver badge

          It looks like you are trying to interchange two words of totally different meaning but similar spelling.

          Would you like kelp?

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Headmaster

          "So as to gauge the Assistants virtual eyes out."

          that'd be 'gouge'. but yours is funnier. Or is there a correct UK spelling that uses 'a' that I'm unaware of?

          /me stares at an eye-gouging gauge

          found this, too: http://grammarist.com/spelling/gage-gauge-and-gouge/

          again, yours was funnier

  7. Sssss

    No delete here?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, it is not self contained, and uses your Smart phone which likely uses Google servers, to listen to all your personal and business conversations, and likely politicians discuss nation compromising stuff. Save us.

    Can't somebody make a little computer that has self contained live translation and max encrypted ear buds. You speak, it translates to the other person, and it translates but also translate to the other language and optionally translate hat back.again in your ear, for you to check (experience with Google translation)?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Probably eventually they can, given the increasing computing power and storage available on phones. Google is a cloud company though, and don't control the hardware (other than the tiny segment of market share Pixel has) so I wouldn't look for them to do that.

      Some might suggest Apple is the more likely candidate, with their emphasis on privacy and an SoC twice as fast as anyone else's. However, even with all the cloud resources Google is able to throw at it, Google Translate is still laughably bad for trying to act as a Babel Fish, cute pre-planned demo notwithstanding. If you doubt that, pick a random Reg sized news story written in another language and let Google have a go at it, and see how poorly it does. It does well enough to kind of get the gist of it, but it hurts your brain to read, and would drive you nuts if you had it speaking that way in your ear!

      Even if Apple could match that poor translation ability, which they probably can't, running on a phone instead of in the cloud, which may not be possible, it wouldn't be nearly good enough.

    2. John Sturdy
      Big Brother

      Yes, eventually, but...

      As phone processing gets more powerful... yes, but you won't like it with the present level of battery power density, unless they drop this slenderness fad and give us a nice chunky phone again, perhaps with hot-swappable batteries.

      And I suspect there'll be government pressure against it, from many governments, because of the enhanced privacy it'll provide. Maybe even some legislation on some weird pretext, such as classifying it as a munition?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So if I'm "knocking boots" will this mini camera take pictures?

    I see issues with this.

  10. LDS Silver badge

    Where's the fun?

    Where's the fun if a camera shoots by itself?

    Also, I don't like people in my shoots. I even use ND filters to get rid of them from images. Nor I like to be photographed - it would just be an ugly image.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Where's the fun?

      "Also, I don't like people in my shoots. "

      Ah, it's not just me, then. It depends where/what I'm taking a picture of, but sometimes I'll wait around for bloody ages to take a picture of something with no other buggers in shot.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Where's the fun?

        That's what strong ND filters are for. As long as people don't stay still for enough time, they won't record in the image. The disadvantage is you need long exposures, and that means a good tripod and head, and of course, it works for still subjects (i.e. architecture).

        Anyway, because inanimate things can't be target of ads, especially when not related to humans, Google needs to know which people are in the image and what they have. Unlimited storage means also an unlimited data trove for Google. As machine learning algorithms improve, they can be used to analyze people in the images and profile them even better recognizing what they wear and what they use... and tell the camera what's the best moment to take a snap to maximize the gathered data.

  11. Solarflare

    It seems like a good article...just a shame I couldn't read it over the sound of all the sucking and sluriping noises.

  12. Robin

    Balance

    In the interests of balance, shouldn't there be some "100 quid for a pen??" comments like Apple got when they released their pencil?

    1. Christopher Rogers

      Re: Balance

      No. Thats the beauty of apple, they set the trend and then normalise it.

  13. Eguro

    Hopefully your puck tester will remember to test

    if the voice differentiation can be fooled.

    If parents limit the usability of the device for children, then surely those children will try to imitate their parents' voices to undo this, no?

    Will there be some kind of codeword or will it simply be voice for id?

    "No no, it's mom speaking. I just have a cold"

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "So when the Swedish person spoke, the English person's phone translated the Swedish into English and played it through their headphones."

    Google Translate can't get that right for written text at the moment - so it is doubtful they have achieved it for real-time speech. Context is important.

    Used Google Translate yesterday in my weekly run of trawling updated web pages in several European languages. Several times it omitted words completely or didn't have the vocabulary - particularly annoying when it's a negative modifier that is dropped. Words like "by", "on", "in", "with" are often given the wrong contextual meaning.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      "Words like "by", "on", "in", "with" are often given the wrong contextual meaning."

      yeah, English and its plethora of prepositions and their subtleties. Some lingos only have one or just a few. 'En' in spanish, is one example. How do you translate English to Spanish so that context fixes it? "It's in the box" = "Está en la caja." "no, it's not ON the box, it's IN the box" "No, no está en la caja. Está EN la caja." Yeah that'll help.

      On a related note, I can think of 10 ways to say "I" in Japanese, each with its own implications, some of which might insult people if you do it wrong, or might make you sound disingenuous, or immature, or arrogant [and I'm just learning the lingo for fun, and am not an expert]. Similarly a number of ways to say 'you', some of which might carry different implications depending on the dialect people use, or who says it ['anata' vs 'omae' for example]. How do you program a translator for this? You really can't, unless the translator can read minds...

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Spanish has a perfectly good word "Dentro" meaning "inside". If Google is good enough it should be able to figure out that "in the box" translates to "dentro de la caja" not "en la caja".

        Subtleties around use of "I" or "you" is possibly more difficult and fraught with danger.

  15. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    Too bloody late.

    The Babel fish needs to translate politician-speak, that long-winded gabble that seems to say so much but either says nothing at all or means pretty much the opposite to what you are hearing.

    Admittedly, the Donald has gone along way in the other direction as he ONLY talks in Twitter format.

  16. imanidiot Silver badge

    Home for kids

    "Youngsters can ask a Home unit to play tunes for musical chairs, play animal sound games, and read classic and modern stories for them"

    Because god forbid you as a parent actually have to have some damn interaction with your offspring!

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Home for kids

      Bleeding edge 2020 Google Summit tech: fully two way sprog-to-Tamagotchi home gateway. You get the app, it reminds you to touch the "feed" / "clean" / "play with" buttons once a day, you can do it from the other side of the globe, no need to ever physically touch the filthy little buggers at all!

  17. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    "They also get unlimited photo and video cloud storage [...]"

    Untill the next smart guy comes along and shoves All The PornTM on it and "unlimited" is redefined as, say, 2 TB.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Depends - if Google thinks it can use it to bring more viewers to YouTube, maybe it will keep unlimited - after all, it's "user contents" Google is not responsible of....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Product packaging

    Why aren't they sold in a small glass jar?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please translate:-

    "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle"

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Please translate:-

      It is of course well known that careless talk costs lives, but the full scale of the problem is not always appreciated though.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Please translate:-

      Indeed. Also, "My food is problematic".

      1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

        Re: Please translate:-

        "My food is problematic".

        No problema, mango mio. Bromeo.

    3. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Please translate:-

      It must be Thursday.

    4. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

      Re: Please translate:-

      "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle"

      La moda de vida que dispongo, está dentro de la caja de Satanás.

  20. wolfetone Silver badge

    I use the 3.5mm audio jack daily, anywhere from 1 hour to 9 hours a day.

    How often is my phone exposed to being submersed in water? 0 hours daily. Even if I use it outside, I have a thing called a rain jacket which has a pocket where the phone resides in.

    Amount of times I've needed a waterproof phone? 0.

    So I guess I'm just not the target market for the Pixel or the new iPhones. Oh well! I'll just carry on as best I can not paying big money for a phone.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Not being able to listen to music via 3.5mm is an inconvenience.

      Not being able to call for help after falling in a ditch and soaking your phone is a calamity.

      Not that audio out and waterproofing are mutually exclusive, as Sony have shown.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Not being able to call for help after falling in a ditch and soaking your phone is a calamity.

        I grew up on a country road. We didn't have your puny little laughable gutters either side, we had huge ditches that'd sometimes be close to 1m deep and 2m wide. They had to take all the rain that would fall into them until they could drain/evaporate. Me and mates would run around in them, jump bikes over them or out of them (where there was a ramp for the drive - big bonus points if you could clear the driveway). I've had a love of the outdoors and done lots of tramping and even some mountain climbing (when I was a less 'well-rounded' person). Done lots of riding and driving on country and mountain roads.

        Haven't yet managed to fall into a ditch though. Even taking a dare from a friend to ride along a straight road with my eyes shut. It's actually quite easy to not do, and I sometimes wonder how many people manage to do it.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Your not the average millenial who needs to chat and send photos under the shower.

      Also, there are so few differentiating features they need to invent new ones: "what, your phone is just IP54? Mine is IP67!!!"

      Next feature will be bulletproof phones, especially in the US. A little larger, and they could become useful shields when someone fires at you....

  21. DougS Silver badge

    Sounds like a good way to go insane

    Having an earbud live translating everything you hear into your language, using the crappy stilted translation Google Translate provides.

    Sure, it is fine if you want to communicate basic stuff like telling a cab driver where to take you, or him telling you how much you owe. But it is utter shit for any sort of real conversation. Just try translating a news story written in another language. While you can tell what it is talking about, you're almost certain to end up confused about some basic facts because the translation completely misses something crucial.

    We are years if not decades away from a practical Babel Fish. But hey, not being ready for prime time never stopped Google before - they think if you slap a 'beta' label on something it doesn't matter how crappy it is! I'm sure that demo was impressive, but it was canned speech they knew would be properly translated (and hey, how many people there actually spoke Swedish to know how well it even worked?)

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like a good way to go insane

      Sure, it is fine if you want to communicate basic stuff like telling a cab driver where to take you, or him telling you how much you owe

      If it does this well then this could be enough to create and own a new market and it will, of course, vastly increase Google's training materials. There are lots of people who travel to countries where they don't speak the language.

      I'm more disappointed by the battery life: my Jabra Sport does 15 hours but these would be more comfortable with the cord. But some kind of pendant with battery and controls would be my preference (like my old Sennheiser)

      1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

        Re: Sounds like a good way to go insane

        "some kind of pendant with battery"

        Education need never end, in the thrall of a pedant with a battery.

  22. Pat Att

    No headphone socket?

    Then it's not for me. The price is rather off-putting too.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: No headphone socket?

      Oh, just wait until you find out that the "$650" phone is actually €800 over here. Yeah, good luck with that...

  23. PapaD

    Audio jack

    Though it may not have an integral audio jack, it was mentioned that the phone comes with a USB-C audio jack converter - so basically, you plug one extra little bit of plastic into your phone, along with your headphones, and its exactly the same as you have now.

    And since its included, it's no extra cost.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Audio jack

      I *really* don't want a USB to 3.5mm jack converter, because it simply won't be as robust as a 3.5mm jack built into the phone itself.

      I suppose on the bright side, it's not a RAM pack to increase the phone's memory...

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Audio jack

        Does the USB to headphone jack convertor stop you charging the phone if you are using it?

        Don't want phone draining if listening to music (many workplaces no music or other personal stuff allowed on work PC, so have to listen on phone or MP3 player) because unable to listen & charge simultaneously

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Audio jack

        Ahahaha a 3.5mm described as robust! Top giggles

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Audio jack

        "it's not a RAM pack..."

        If it were, it'd require a piece of blue tac to stop it from wobbling.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Audio jack

      I've always found connections to a phone a problem when on the move and have been using Bluetooth phones for over 10 years because of this. A 3.5 mm jack has quite a bit of leverage on a phone an can easily lead to considerable damage by accident. But it can be useful to plug the phone into a speaker (if it doesn't support BT or if the codec support is shitty) so the adapter is a must.

      On the whole, like removable batteries, I suspect a lot of people will bitch about this change and buy them anyway.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Audio jack

        "A 3.5 mm jack has quite a bit of leverage on a phone an can easily lead to considerable damage by accident."

        Which makes you think, why didn't they provide a magnetic connection for 3.5mm jack devices? You know, how Apple did it with the Macbooks and their chargers?

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Audio jack

          Which makes you think, why didn't they provide a magnetic connection for 3.5mm jack devices?

          Not sure you really want magnets there, but, yes the power connections for MacBooks were a great idea. An alternative, mechanical approach would be similar to that developed by Nokia for its phones. I think it was called a "pop-port", Ericsson had something similar. If only the industry had bothered to standardise on something like that… Instead I think 3.5 won out due to the availability of standard components.

          USB-C suffers from the same problems because the developers chose to solve the wrong problem. They could have chosen to create a plug that could obviously go one way and concentrated on making the connection robust but also the weakest link so that neither cable nor phone would suffer. Oh well, always hope for the next version…

          In the meantime wireless charging is probably going to lead to phones without ports altogether (you can imagine some kind of maintenance port) but an entirely sealed unit will appeal to some.

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Audio jack

          "Which makes you think, why didn't they provide a magnetic connection for 3.5mm jack devices?"

          Palm actually tried it with the Veer. Press reaction was negative; they thought the little adaptor would get lost. Unlike, of course, the future Apple Lightning adaptor.

        3. David Nash Silver badge

          Re: Audio jack

          "why didn't they provide a magnetic connection for 3.5mm jack devices"

          You mean "why didn't they replace the 3.5mm jack with yet another incompatible non-3.5mm-jack connnector?"

  24. Fading Silver badge

    I'd be impressed......

    If it was the Swedish chef being translated.....

  25. iron Silver badge

    Pixie Buds

    I look forward to seeing people get slapped, punched and possibly arrested because they were stupid enough to rely on this Googlefish. Google Translate is a terrible translator, often changing sentences to the opposite of their original meaning. I read an article in German yesterday that was about a man bribing a tax official and Google translated it as he was BITING the tax official. As for adding Machine Learning to everything, Translate got worse when Google added Artificial Incompetence.

    1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

      Re: Pixie Buds

      " man bribing a tax official and Google translated it as he was BITING the tax official"

      La mordida de mi tio está afuera del asno de la tarifa.

  26. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    Lugholes

    Surely I'm not alone in having ears that buds fall out of in less than 10 seconds. I won't be buying any of the products listed in this article.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Lugholes

      Most buds come with covers in different sizes to fit different lugholes. Get those right and they should generally stay in.

      Different case when you're on the move in which case the cord really ought to go all the way round so that even if the buds do fall out of your ears, you won't drop them.

      Sennheiser got this right with the MM200 but stopped making it for some reason. :-( https://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/images500x500/Sennheiser_MM_200_MM_200_Bluetooth_Headset_612598.jpg

  27. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Alien

    Finally you will be able to properly appreciate my poetry.

    1. Dan McIntyre

      https://forums.theregister.co.uk/user/76911/

      Well played sir!

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        None of it rhymes though.

        Take it back and make it ryhme.

  28. JamesPond
    Unhappy

    USB-C Connetor

    I'm not sure about USB-C. I've had an Apple MacBook since launch. Like all other Apple supplied cables, it started wearing at the point where the plastic sheath meets the metal ends. I have tried several USB-C to USB-C cables from 3rd party suppliers and whilst the sheath isn't a problem, after a couple of months use, the USB-C cables start dropping out of the laptop under their own weight. The Apple cable doesn't fall out so this doesn't seem to be a problem at the MacBook end. I know USB-A & B and micro cables are a pain because they are not reversible, but they didn't fall out on themselves, whether OEM or 3rd party.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: USB-C Connetor

      Not all USB cables are made equal. A Google engineer tested and compiled a list of the best ones in his own time. It might be worth Googling for it.

      1. JamesPond
        Pint

        Re: USB-C Connetor

        Cheers Dave 126, Mr Benson Leung from Google rates the cables I've bought at 2* out of 5* ....guess that's my answer, i'll try one he's rated at 5* . Have a pint on me.

  29. thx1138v2

    English to English, German to German, etc

    And since they'll be translating, they'll also modify content to be what they think you SHOULD hear instead of what was actually said. They already do it on their news site.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: English to English, German to German, etc

      They already do it on their news site.

      That's a given though isn't it? If they told the facts, it wouldn't be a "news" site now would it?

      (A few rare and wonderful examples like El Reg (usually?) excepted, of course ;-) )

      --> Most scumbag news sites. Actually "scumbag" is redundant.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    do away with the 3.5mm audio jack

    shrug.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Assistant automatically pops up and asks what you want to know

    "handy tool", omg...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    removable AAAA battery

    never heard of those... or is it a typo?

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: removable AAAA battery

      Why would it be?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “Hey Google, good morning”

    It's not embarrassing they came up with this, it's embarrassing so many people will say: "COOL, I NEED THIS!!!" :/

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    information Disney will be allowed to collect from families

    I presume it will be the usuall clusterfuck, i.e. somebody will make an article of some obscure term or condition No 356362 that allows Disney "everything". They will apologize for the "genuine error", and the world will move on....

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Clips

    essentially, an in-home cctv which never, ever, never-ever-ever, will get to google direct. But then, it's all right, as long as you don't have to, by law, install and activate it in your home (which will happen).

    p.s. I wonder how much time people will spend wading through thousands of still shots every day, deciding "what to delete and what to keep". A day? ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google Clips

      Yes, I saw it on the BBC as well.

      What I find very amusing is that it decides itself what is worth filming, so I definitely would not want to have one in the bedroom or other fun places. Not that that will be a problem because I don't want it at all, period. Call me fickle (but not Shirley), but I will have no products in my home from a company that once stated "you have no privacy, get over it".

  36. Gomez Adams

    USB connectors are intrinsically flimsier than headphone jacks and not really suitable for use with the phone kept in a pocket where it is subject to repeated minor movements. But if you are going to make an adaptor why not make one that is a solid unit (as seen with many old-school FM transmitters) with the jack socket to the side rather than having a cable?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Good suggestion but these decisions are often made on the cheapness and ubiquity of components rather than any petty engineering considerations.

  37. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    Musical chairs...

    > Youngsters can ask a Home unit to play tunes for musical chairs

    Yep, my Bluetooth speakers drop out regularly as well.

  38. Nastybirdy
    Thumb Down

    Ugh.

    Oh well. I moved from Apple to the OnePlus 5 when I got tired of their bullshittery.

    "Here, we're going to remove an industry standard jack and sell you back a solution to the problem we've deliberately made to sell you the solution."

    Sad to see Google following the iHerd.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple haters...

    Sorry, I think I'm missing something here, where are all the comments about:

    Fixed on-board storage - where's the SD card slot for that all important expandable storage

    Changeable battery - a must for all Fandroids I thought.

    Price - $50 cheaper than an iPhone8, but we all know the iPhone will be worth 10x more in 2 years time

    Innovation?! Struggling to see any here (and before you spout Babel Fish - that's software and will be available through all channels eventually).

    4K Video @ 30fps - Pfftt.. Laughable

    YAWN!

  40. Steve Evans

    Sometimes I wonder...

    I must be the only person left on the planet who hasn't dropped his phone in the sea or peed on it and flushed it...

    I do worry about the population of this planet sometimes.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes I wonder...

      Probably because you don't typically try to compose Facebook posts while urinating. Neither do I, but admittedly I pay a high price for that - I have friends I could hold much longer conversations with on Facebook or WhatsApp than I can verbally WHILE we're sitting at the same pub table...

    2. Kiwi Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Sometimes I wonder...

      I must be the only person left on the planet who hasn't dropped his phone in the sea or peed on it and flushed it...

      No, you're not alone in that. We do seem to be quite rare though. I've not dropped a phone into any sea, river, lake, swimming pool etc. I've not dropped one in a toilet or sink. I can't recall ever even spilling a drink or other fluid on them. Closest I've come is having a pocket get flooded during a massive downpour when I was a very great many KM from shelter on a motorbike ride one day. Only, although when I left home several hours (and hundreds of K's) earlier, with no visible cloud, I put the phone in a ziploc plastic bag in the pocket. Y'know, just in case.

      I use handsfree (corded, 3.5mm jack, headset I like that has been reliable and with me for a very long time now) to keep the phone in the pocket when there's a risk and I must be on a call, or I leave the phone somewhere safe and ignore it until it is safe to use it.

      I do worry about the population of this planet sometimes.

      I share your fear.

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: Sometimes I wonder...

        I have broken one screen though...

        Well actually, I didn't break it... My brother did... With the wheel of his Landrover as he drove over it after it had slipped out of my pocket as he dropped me off.

        But that was way back in the day, and it was a nokia, so it still worked, I just couldn't see anything.

        IIRC the replacement screen cost me less than the beer and curry I had after he had dropped me off.

        I did kill a Thinkpad keyboard with a pint of beer once.

        Ah... The Thinkpad... I wonder if the new one has the under keyboard liquid catcher and gutter drainage system. Not many laptops would bathe in a whole pint of beer and only require a £30 keyboard.

  41. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Need English to Program Management real-time translator

    The older I get the more fatigued I feel at the end of the day, having spent the entire day policing my thoughts and verbal output to ensure only the purest politically correct bullshit is employed.

    A couple years ago we had a guy hack up a Voxtec phrasealotor to convert plain English to PC BS. A very limited hack, yet useful! For example:

    "He's a fscking idiot!" Becomes "this employee requires additional training."

    "You fscked up!" Becomes "perhaps we should try an alternative approach"

    Simply glorious.

  42. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Dropping phones in toilet?

    Pre-teen boys. They could break a bowling ball. Toilets are only one of their varied arsenal. The things that can and do happen are ... unspeakable.

    1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

      Re: Dropping phones in toilet?

      "They could break a bowling ball."

      1. Fill 2.5 cm holes with liquid. 2. Cover holes with water-impermeable USB 3 adapter. 3. Post to Canada in January.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019