Yup. Chinese users can now access Google’s mobile Translate applications without needing to install a bunch of bypassing softwares to get through the strict web and mobile censoring that pervades the country. This marks the first time in 7 years that the search engine giant has launched a service aimed specifically towards users in China.
Google took its leave of China over half a decade ago, when it redirected its local search engine to Hong Kong. The company also shut down most of its services in the aftermath of a slew of new censoring laws from the government. The company does maintain a web based portal in China, that also offers translation services. However, almost half of the Chinese population accesses the web over mobile and as such the company’s reach was very severely limited by a web only interface.
The Translate service is available for both Android and iOS operating systems. While folks on the iOS ecosystem can go for a direct download via the Chinese App Store, Google is letting Android users download the app from its servers here.
Meanwhile, the service will conform to the Chinese laws and regulations. It will also be maintained by one of the company’s joint ventures, which runs ll of the company’s remaining services in the country.
The Chinese version will also have full access to the translation service.This includes the Word Len. In case you are unfamiliar with it, Word Lens is a feature that translates text from photos clicked inside the app. The service gained support for the Chinese language — which is arguably one of the toughest all around — only last year.
Announcing the new service, Google said:
With today’s update, we’re hoping to make the Translate experience better for Chinese users, helping break down language barriers by connecting people around the world.
The service won’t bring Google any revenue. However, it could act as a precursor to the company bringing in the rest of its services back into the country. With over a billion people with access to the Internet in the country, China is one of the most lucrative destinations for any Internet or mobile company. Google would love to get back inside and Translate, could be the first step along the road.