Automatic translation is the newest feature added to Google's Chrome browser. A beta version of Chrome 4 recognizes pages not in the user's -preferred language and offers to translate. Also new are privacy settings which may be implemented on a site-by-site basis.
The new beta, released late Monday, works with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, despite some confusion because Google did not list Windows 7 as a supported operating system on an early version of the download page. (The new beta is Chrome version 220.127.116.111.)
The update is especially interesting to business users who need to keep up with international partners or competitors. The new privacy features, meanwhile, enhance users' control over their browsing experience.
The Chrome translation feature does not require any additional software. Users are presented with a prompt asking if they want the foreign language page translated. A "yes" answer results in the translated page being shown.
The feature is, essentially, an automated connection to Google Translate, which is already available as a standalone service.
Google Translate presently supports 52 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish. While Google admits its machine-based translation is not perfect, it generally results in a translation good enough for the reader to understand the content being presented.
No word on when the new features will be added to the "stable" production releases of the browser.
My take: The translation feature, however imperfect, will still give business users easier access to foreign-language content. One of the things I'd like to look into is how businesses might optimize their Web sites for easy translation by Google Translate and other automated tools.
Not everyone wants or needs automatic translation included with their browser, but it does mesh nicely with Google's overall mission of making the world's information more accessible to more of its inhabitants. And, in my experience, the translation dialog does not get in the user's way.
The only user who might object would be someone who normally speaks a language besides their Chrome default and is presented the translation option for pages they can already read. Seems like a minor annoyance.