null

For the first time today since graduating high school, I don’t feel guilty about forgetting the years’ worth of Spanish I learned. Better, I don’t expect to feel guilty about it ever again thanks to Google Assistant.

That’s because Google Assistant is being upgraded to tackle one of the most intimidating things about traveling to a foreign country: it’s adding real-time translation to Google’s increasingly smart AI voice assistant.

I got to demo Interpreter Mode, as it’s officially called, by commanding a Google Home Hub smart speaker with a single phrase: “Okay, Google, become my Italian Interpreter.” I then had a full conversation with someone who spoke Italian, even though I don’t know uno from due – until Assistant helped me out by reciting the words in English seconds later.

Google Assistant Interpreter Mode is potentially world-changing for the future of travel: I won’t need to be bilingual in order to properly visit places and converse with locals in China, France, Italy, and so on. And there’s no need to boot up a translation app, sort through language selection dropdown menus, or spend time typing in words. It all happens automatically.

The Earth grew three times smaller

Google Assistant Interpreter Mode is like having a foreign language dictionary come to life. It was the most promising innovation I’ve seen at CES 2019. The back-and-forth conversation between myself and my fluent Italian friend felt fairly natural, even if the software did require us to repeat some sentences. For the most part it worked.

Like Google Maps has helped us navigate the world when visiting big, unfamiliar cities, Google’s new Interpreter Mode has the potential to close the gap on…