Microsoft Translator AI powers now work offline on mobile

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AI, especially on our smartphones, is great and all but they have one somewhat worrying requirement. It requires devices to be online in order to send data to remote servers for processing. While technically understandable, it's always an opportunity for data privacy and security problems. It also doesn't have to be that way, considering how powerful our smartphones have become. Taking that into consideration, Microsoft is proudly announcing that its new Translator app for Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire devices can now take advantage of AI-powered translations even when offline.

The online requirement for AI features is warranted but should also be temporary. Considering the limited processing power of our phones, AI software makers opt to offload the processing to their own servers and simply carry the query and the result back and forth. It's a ripe opportunity for hacks along the way or even privacy concerns on the server end.

Recognizing the increasing power for smartphone hardware, Microsoft worked to make its neural machine translation (NMT) available offline first for a few Android phones equipped with dedicated AI chips. Now, however, it has made enough optimizations that the same AI-powered offline language packs can be used on any phone with a powerful enough processor. And it's a very low base if Amazon Fire devices are also supported.

In addition, Microsoft is opening up the feature to Android app developers. The new local feature will allow text translation right within apps. This can also work offline but developers looking into this capability will most likely have to pay for a subscription service.