Google's search app gets friendlier to bilingual Android users

Queries can now be made in multiple languages without switching settings

To take a screenshot on most Android phones, press and hold the power and volume down buttons.

To take a screenshot on most Android phones, press and hold the power and volume down buttons.

Want to Google the name of a restaurant in English and then ask for the weather in Japanese? On Android it no longer requires switching back and forth between language settings.

For voice searches, users can now select up to five languages in the search app from the more than 50 supported, Google said Thursday. The app already supported that many languages, but users had to change their settings every time they wanted to switch between them. Now it recognizes automatically the language being spoken.

The change lets people search information in different languages back-to-back. That means you can ask for the weather in Spanish and then dictate a text in French, Google explained.

For now, the update is only for voice search with the latest version of the search app on Android, a Google spokeswoman said.

Getting it to work requires a one-time change to the language settings in the apps menu. Some languages are available in quite a few dialects. For Spanish, there's different versions for El Salvador, Spain, Mexico and other countries. For Chinese, there are three versions of Mandarin and also Cantonese. A handful of forms for Arabic are supported.

Results are displayed in the language spoken, assuming the app detects it. In one test, spoken results were given for the local weather in Japanese, but not in Spanish.

Google said it will add more languages over time.

On the desktop, people can select their preferred language for all Google services via their Google+ page. But as it works now, only one language can be chosen.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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Zach Miners

IDG News Service
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