Google is expanding on Gboard in Africa, adding nine African languages to the app’s voice dictation feature. Eight of these are official South African languages, with the ninth being one of Rwanda’s four languages.
The news was announced at Google’s Google4Africa conference taking place on World Teacher’s Day. That’s Wednesday, 5 October 2022. How’s that for a lesson on a day we celebrate teachers across the world?
 

Google also dedicated the Doodle to teachers on the day. We like!
The eight official South African languages receiving support are; Xhosa, Swati, Sesotho, Venda, Tswana, Xitsonga, Northern Sotho, and Ndebele. Kinyarwanda – and official language in Rwanda – was the last to be added.
Weird flex but OK Google
The app, which currently supports more than 130+ different languages, is able to automatically convert a user’s voice into usable text. This means that speakers of the languages mentioned above can speak into their device’s microphone, and have the text ready to go. We’re hoping Google will get the variety of accents and actually type the right text.
Additionally, the app has a built-in Translate feature, which lets you convert that text into any other language supported on Gboard.
Back in May, Google added Sepedi and Tsonga to Translate, noting that they were some of the first languages using Zero-Shot Machine Translation. This essentially means that this machine can translate these languages without needing any examples as a reference. At the time, the search engine noted that the technology wasn’t perfect, and is always improving. It’s possible that the latest languages added to Gboard could eventually be added to Google Translate using the same technology.

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The inclusion of more African languages in the Gboard’s voice typing is just the first step of Google’s plan. Just under a year ago, Google pledged to invest $1 billion into Africa’s digital transformation. These changes are just the beginning of what Google has in store for us.
You can find Gboard on the Google Play Store and the App Store. The app is supported by most of the apps on Google Play and App Store.
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