Google already runs a successful online translator, Google Translate, but they’ve got far-loftier ideas than simply converting the written word. They want to translate languages spoken over the phone, according to their head of translation services.
Speaking to The Times, Franz Och, Google’s head of translation services, said:
“We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years’ time.Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on.
If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently.”
China’s government has issued statements denying any state involvement in the cyberattacks on Google and defending its online censorship.
The statements come nearly two weeks after Google threatened to pull out of the country after finding that e-mail accounts belonging to human rights activists had been compromised.
In a statement posted to China’s official Web site, the State Council Information Office defended China’s regulation of the Internet as legal and said it should be free of interference from outside parties.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton formally denounced Internet censorship in a speech Thursday that was directed both at the private and public sectors. For corporations, she said, “Censorship should not be accepted by any company from anywhere. American companies need to make a principled stand.”
Google disclosed the attacks targeting it and other U.S. companies on January 12 and said the attacks originated in China. The company said it discovered the attacks in mid-December and while it did not specifically implicate the Chinese government, it says that as a result of the incidents, it may withdraw from doing business in China.
Source code was stolen from some of more than 30 Silicon Valley companies targeted in the attack, sources said. Adobe Systems has confirmed that it was targeted by an attack, and sources have said Yahoo, Symantec, Juniper Networks, Northrop Grumman, and Dow Chemical also were targets.
The world’s biggest software company today issued a security advisory and warned of a loophole that was used by Chinese hackers to attack dozens of US companies – the same attack that led Google on Tuesday to announce its plan to drop the censorship of its search engine in China.
“In a specially-crafted attack… Internet Explorer can be caused to allow remote code execution,” said Microsoft in its security alert.
The company added that it had not yet fixed the vulnerability in the world’s most popular web browser, which is used by around two thirds of Internet users.
The attacks, which apparently attempted to steal personal information on Chinese dissidents and the code that runs some of Google’s critical services, also hit a number of other companies, said to include Yahoo and US defence contractor Northrop Grumman.
Microsoft confirmed the existence of the loophole after an investigation by internet security firm McAfee and information from Google and Adobe.
Doing business in China comes at a price. But for Google, not doing business in China could prove quite expensive.
Google’s ultimatum to the Chinese government that it no longer will censor search results on Google.cn could force the company out of China, if Google follows through on its threat. The Chinese government is not expected to allow such a thing, especially after such a public slap in its face.
That means Google could be stepping away from perhaps the biggest technology business opportunity of the decade. China, already home to the most Internet users in the world at 338 million active users, is still in the very beginning of its Internet era. Only 25 percent of China’s 1.38 billion people are actively using the Internet, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.
Google’s current operation in China is small. David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president and chief legal officer, told CNBC Tuesday that Google’s revenue in that country is “truly immaterial.” Market share numbers vary, but according to ComScore Google has 14.1 percent of the Chinese search market, trailing Baidu’s 62.2 percent.
Google on Tuesday is making a big move with its Docs service, opening it up to all types of file uploads. This includes photos, movies, music, and ZIP archives, all of which will be stored on Google’s servers.
Along with opening up Docs to additional file types, Google is also dramatically increasing the size of individual uploads. Where the company will still limit users to 500KB for Microsoft Word documents, and 10MB for PowerPoint presentations and PDFs, the new limit for all other files that cannot be converted into a Google Docs format is 250MB. This is 10 times the size of what’s allowed as an attachment in the company’s Web mail service Gmail.
In a post on the company’s blog, Google Docs’ product manager Vijay Bangaru said that the new size and file type allowances serve to make Docs a replacement for USB drives, allowing users to access their files between computers. The company is also applying the same permissions-based sharing system it has for documents that it hosts, allowing users to share files with one another.
That said, the amount of space for non-Google Docs files that are stored within Docs will only be 1GB. Users can upgrade though, and Google is planning on that.
Just like users can purchase additional space for other Google services like Picasa Web Albums and Gmail, users will soon be able to rent space from Google. For standard Google Docs users this will be 25 cents per gigabyte, per year, while Google Apps enterprise users have to pay $3.50 per gigabyte, per year. That’s a hefty price difference, but customer support, and a service level agreement that guarantees uptime add costs.
Google ventured into new territory on Monday with the launch of a new URL-shortening service it’s calling Goo.gl.
Unlike some existing and high-profile shorteners such as TinyURL and Bit.ly, Goo.gl is not a general-purpose link shrinker that users can access by going to a standalone site. Instead, it’s been built into Google products, beginning with Google’s browser toolbar and its Feedburner RSS service. Both of those services can now create shortened Goo.gl URLs that link to the source content while using fewer characters. This is especially important for sharing on places like Twitter, where there are size limits.
The feature goes hand in hand with the launch of a share button for the Google toolbar that lets users share whatever page they’re on with a number of social services. As for its integration with FeedBurner, Google now provides feed owners with a way to automatically publish certain posts directly to Twitter, which will again help keep the number of characters to a minimum.
Google says the shortening service is both fast and stable. The company has also placed the same security measures that go into its search index to block pages that may contain malware or phishing schemes.
In an introductory post on its official blog, Google said that it may eventually roll out the service as a standalone site, but that for now it’s being built into Google products. Such a feature would likely allow third party sites to build Goo.gl link shortening into their own products. In the meantime, other Google properties that could certainly benefit from having link shortening built-in include YouTube, Maps, Reader, and Blogger–many of which have integrated sharing features.
As we should have mentioned before, .gl is the top-level domain for Greenland. Also, Google’s launch comes on the heels of Facebook having quietly launched its own URL-shortening service called FB.me. Heading there in your browser simply takes you to Facebook’s home page, whereas sharing links through Facebook’s mobile site will shorten them for you using a shortened FB.me URL. More on that as soon as Facebook publicly acknowledges its existence.