The free translation service Google Translate provides instant online translations between a number of languages. Working at high speed, the service can instantly translate words as well as whole sentences and pages. Those behind the service plan to continue to expand it, adding more languages over time.
Google Translate programmers say the service works by searching for patterns in as many as hundreds of millions of online documents before deciding on the best match. Translation is accomplished through an algorithm that insiders say is "statistically driven."
In addition to translating language, Google Translate is capable of detecting what language a document is if the viewer is unsure.
While other online translation services have existed for a number of years, most people who have used both Google translate and competing services give Google Translate the edge for accuracy and ease of use. Google put its service through 20 stages of development, which means the service has gone through many rounds of refinement before a feature is publicly launched.
Many of those keeping an eye on Google Translate predict the service is likely to improve over time, primarily due to Google's access to so many online documents. As the biggest search engine around, it has no competition where volume of text is concerned.