The Internet has made the world a smaller place but, unless you’ve taken time to learn multiple languages, chances are you’ll come across pages that are incomprehensible to you. Translation tools and browser add-ons do exist, of course, but, in typical Apple fashion, Safari will soon have the ability to translate a page without requiring an extra package or, worse, exposing your data to third parties or even Apple itself.
Translating text is no easy matter as proven in the early days of tools like AltaVista’s (and then Yahoo’s) notorious Babel Fish. They’ve vastly improved over the decades, of course, and Google’s AI-driven system is perhaps the best example of how far we’ve come. And as with anything Google, that often comes at the price of a teeny bit of data users are willing to let its AI slurp and use to improve itself.
That often runs contrary to Apple’s stated values so it’s no surprise that it’s moving to get users far away from such external translation systems. Based on an early build of iOS 14, 9to5Mac gleaned clues that Safari will have such a translation feature built into the mobile web browser, no additional app or service needed.
The Apple feature’s advantage is that it will supposedly utilize the Neural Engine on the iPhone or iPad itself, removing the risk of user’s data, like websites they visit, from leaking out. That also means Apple can expand the automatic translation feature to other parts of the platform, like the App Store.
iOS 14, or rather its iPadOS version, will reportedly also bring improved Apple Pencil support on Safari. This could mean that users will be able to annotate web pages with the Pencil, pretty much like how they’d mark up ebooks and PDFs.