Google's upcoming Android app will be able to transcribe and translate as you go. However, you'll only be able to use it while connected to the internet at first.
Google has shown off an upcoming feature for its Android Google Translate app that will allow for real-time transcription and translation of one language into another at an AI event in San Fransisco.
According to CNET, the feature is still in the prototyping stage, so don't expect the functional equivalent of a Hitchhiker's Babel Fish to be on your Android phone just yet.
You might be thinking this is old news, given Google Translate isn't exactly a new product, and Google debuted live transcription features with last year's Google Pixel 4 phones.
Among the new features onboard the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL phones is a Recorder app that can transcribe spoken audio in real-time—a tool that could prove hugely useful in lectures, interviews, and more besides. It works offline too, but it’s not your only option for converting speech into text.
Where this differs, however is that the translation is being handled only at this stage in an online capacity, using Google's own servers to aid in accuracy of translation, especially as it relates to full sentences. That's quite vital when grasping the full meaning of a sentence between languages, because grammar can vary wildly, and the assumptions made by an AI based on a word-by-word approach can lead to serious errors.
As The Verge notes, it's designed for actual live conversations with no support for translating previously recorded audio. At a pinch, though,you could always record audio on one phone and "play" it to a supporting Android device to get that to work.