Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Google Translate, Facebook and iPhone now support Persian/Farsi

Google Translate adds Persian

I started writing a blog post just before voting began in the Iranian presidential election about the lack of a Persian option in Google Translate. With so much content on the web in Persian, it would have been great to be able to do a quick and rough machine translation into English.

Searching Google brought up no news about any new languages coming up in Google Translate. There are questions on mailing lists asking if it was going to happen, but those asking were always redirected to this FAQ saying large volumes of bi-lingual texts were needed.

But now Google Translate supports Persian (even though it's a very rough alpha version):

We feel that launching Persian is particularly important now, given ongoing events in Iran. Like YouTube and other services, Google Translate is one more tool that Persian speakers can use to communicate directly to the world, and vice versa — increasing everyone's access to information.

Being a machine translation, it's not perfect. It will certainly lose some of the flavour of Persian, the flourishes and idioms (which always lose something in translation), but it's a start. Cyrus Farivar has more on the accuracy, but seems glad it's finally here (as am I!). You can use Google Translate to translate BBC Persian into English, translate Persian tweets into English and now, the entire Persian blogosphere!

YouTube relaxes rules to help Iranians

Google also relaxed its rules on classifying videos on YouTube after graphic videos of violent attacks by Basij members on demonstrators were removed. Google lived up to its "don't be evil" motto (especially after the hurdles Iranians had to clear in order to upload their videos in the first place).

Facebook launches a Persian interface

hanks to the work of 400 Persian-speaking volunteers Facebook now has a Persian interface that automatically detect browser language and displays accordingly. The company says...

Since the Iranian election last week, people around the world have increasingly been sharing news and information on Facebook about the results and its aftermath. Much of the content created and shared has been in Persian—the native language of Iran — but people have had to navigate the site in English or other languages.

Great news and a triumph of collaborative working from those involved.

iPhone 3.0 supports Persian

People in Iran were some of the first to get jailbroken iPhones. With the highly anticipated version 3.0 of the iPhone OS, they've now got a legit Persian interface!

Pic taken from Cyrus Farivar's blog

Twitter switches to HTTPS for added security

Twitter switched over to HTTPS to ensure extra security for its web-based users. It could just be a coincidence, but I suspect its also a response to the popularity of the #iranelection hashtag and coverage the service has been getting. I'll be uploading a user guide to getting Google Translate and Twitter to work together.

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