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Google real-time search projects, Android in China

by Kristen Nicole

Google’s been revealing some insight to its ongoing research, the latest being real-time speech translation for Android.  You speak to your phone in your native tongue, and the phone will speak back in the language to which you’re translating.

Despite the project being in full research mode, Google took time to demonstrate the technology at the IFA conference this week.  The demo reportedly consisted of live, voice-based translations between English and German.

A number of translation apps have appeared in the Android Market since it launched, but only recently are they taking on new dimensions with speech-recognition.  The voice-enabled technology is a particular point of interest for Google, as it recently launched Google Voice Actions, and is working on a number of other speech-related projects.

It’s an important goal for Google.  The ability to interact with your Android device and its apps will introduce more opportunity for consumer productivity, giving Android’s OS and devices a leg up for business and personal users.

Ensuring Android’s OS attractiveness to other developers is equally important for the open source platform, and China holds a great deal of promise for global expansion.   Former Google China President Kai-Fu Lee is jump-starting two projects based on the Android OS, both centered around media.

The first, called Tapas, is an Android-based OS that has an inclusive caller ID feature, syncs contacts with popular Chinese social networks, and also has a music player that displays song lyrics, karaoke style. Tapas’ media hub doesn’t stop there—the OS will also have an eReader with custom settings.

Additionally, Lee will be expanding on Wonderpond, or Wandoujia in Chinese.  This is an app and media distribution platform delivering tailored content from streaming video sites, and acts as a message storage and delivery system as well.  Both projects are funded by Lee’s incubation firm, Innovation Works, launched shortly after Lee resigned from Google about a year ago.

Chinese mobile markets tend to develop ahead of the US, so Lee’s projects offer a glimpse at trends to expect here in the states.  One thing to watch out for is custom operating systems and profiles, which could be toggled for different mobile experiences based on individual needs (one for work, another for home, a third for travel).  As virtual operating systems provide device-agnostic software across PCs and mobile devices, we’re sure to see these trends develop alongside virtualization.