Apple Offers Developers New Translation API When ‘Localization Alone Isn’t Sufficient’

Apple Translation API 2024

Apple has announced two new translation APIs at its annual World Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which ran from June 10 to June 14, 2024.

While consumers were the audience for the newly unveiled Apple watch translation gadget, this API announcement is firmly targeted at app developers who wish to reach a wider user base.

In a video peppered generously with the words “easy”, “simple”, and “useful”, Apple Senior Engineer Louie Livon-Bemel showed how app developers can leverage Apple’s machine translation engines in their own products.

The example given is for user-generated content — in this case, user reviews — which Livon-Bemel describes as a scenario where “localization alone isn’t sufficient.”

Developers can implement the first “simple API” with just a few lines of code to display a translation overlay — triggered by a user pressing a button — for any selected, single text instance in the user interface. It’s the work of just a couple of minutes.

A second “flexible” text translation API has been made available to enable inline translation — more suitable for cases of multiple instances of text such as a set of user reviews — or for content that changes over time.

Because the APIs draw on the same models that underpin the Apple Translate app and iOS system-wide translation, language coverage mirrors what Apple users are already familiar with. 

This set of supported languages comprises 21 languages including Hindi, for which support was added this year. (Not all combinations are supported, however.)

The first “simple” API has already shipped, according to Livon-Bemel, who encouraged developers to “adopt this in production apps.”