Mozilla working on native Firefox translation feature


Mozilla is working on integrating a native translation feature in the organization’s Firefox web browser that does not rely on cloud services.

One of the advantages that the Chrome browser has over Firefox is that it comes with integrated translate functionality. Mozilla did work on translation features in Firefox and integrated several services, including Yandex Translate and Google Translate in Firefox.

The functionality is not enabled by default; one of the main reasons for that is that Mozilla would have to pay the companies that operate the translation services for API use. While Firefox users may get an API key from these services to integrate it in the browser, it is not something that is advertised by Mozilla.

Firefox users who require translate functionality install browser extensions such as To Google Translate or Translate Man.

firefox translate

The native integration of machine translation functionality in Firefox is part of Project Bergamot, a research project funded by the European Union. The project’s consortium is a joint venture of the University of Edinburgh, University of Sheffield, Charles University, University of Tartu and Mozilla.

A main focus of the project is to improve client-side machine translations in web browsers to improve privacy and make the solution viable for sectors that can’t use cloud-based translation services.

The focus of the 3-year Bergamot project is addition and improvement of client-side machine translation in a web browser. This shift to client-side translation empowers citizens to preserve their privacy and increases the uptake of language technologies in Europe in sectors that require confidentiality.

Mozilla plans to integrate the project into the Firefox web browser to bring native client-side translation functionality to the browser.

A development milestone has been reached recently when the team managed to integrate a basic version of the translation engine in the Firefox web browser (not yet publicly available).

A demonstration video has been published on YouTube that shows the client-side translation of a German text into English.

The translate functionality uses the same interfaces as the already integrated translate services in Firefox. Mozilla Firefox detects the language of the page and suggests to translate it into a different language based on the user’s preference.

A click on the translate button starts the process that is handled solely on then local machine.

Closing words

Project Bergamot is an ongoing project at the time but if the joined research team manages to create a solution that runs machine translations natively and does not lag behind in functionality or performance to cloud-based solutions, it would eliminate one of the shortcomings of the Firefox web browser without sacrificing privacy or costing money that Mozilla would have to pay to third-parties for API uses.

Now You: how would you like to see translate functionality integrated in Firefox? (via Sören Hentzschel)

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