Alexa, Google, Siri put their bilingual skills to the test in translation battle

Your smart assistant can do more than turn the lights on and off and set appointments in your calendar. It can also do it in a host of other languages. The translation functionality is most often used to find out how to say specific phrases in other languages, but have you ever wondered about how accurate your smart assistant actually is? One Hour Translation, one of the largest online translation agencies in the world, put together a list of 60 of the most well-known phrases in the world and compared the translating capability of the Amazon Echo, the Google Home, and Apple’s Siri. They translated the phrases from English into French, Spanish, Chinese, and German.

The results are surprising. Google Home beat out the competition in translating all languages except Chinese, a victory that went to the Amazon Echo. The smart assistant translations were given to professional translators and ranked on a score of 1 to 6. The graph below shows the average translation score of each device.

how smart assistants translates favorite quoes translation battle of the virtual  results a survey by one hour

The Google Home scored an average of 4.72 in French, while Alexa scored 4.16 and Siri scored 4.24. For Spanish, Google Home scored 5.15, while Alexa scored 4.56 and Siri scored 4.64. The Google Home only averaged 3.97 for Chinese, while Alexa scored 4.12 and Siri scored 3.85. Finally, Google Home ranked the highest for German with a score of 4.74, with Alexa coming in at 4.27 and Siri at 4.11.

The phrases included famous movie quotes like The Godfather’s “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” and lines from well-known speeches like Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The variance in the translations is based on the type of NMT, or neural machine translation technology, that each smart device uses. Alexa uses Microsoft Translator for its automatic translations, while Google Home makes use of Google’s proprietary technology.

Automatic translation is still a tricky business due to the incredible number of potential meanings a given phrase has. No sentence is a direct translation — variables like context, dialect, and other factors have to be taken into account. However, One Hour Translation is working with multiple NMT providers to improve the efficacy of automatic translations in the future.

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