Google launches new cloud service for understanding human language

The tech behind Parsey McParseface is now available for cloud consumption

Google's intelligent cloud developer tools are expanding with the launch of a new Cloud Natural Language API on Wednesday. The service is aimed at helping developers create applications that understand human language.

It's an important move for Google, as public cloud providers are racing to host new applications built with intelligent capabilities. Natural language processing allows developers to build apps that can tackle the challenging task of understanding how humans communicate, and it is key for things like building intelligent assistants and chat bots.

This API can provide a bunch of information about a block of text back to an application, including the overall sentiment of a passage and an analysis of the structure of a sentence. The system can also identify entities mentioned, including people, organizations, locations, events, and products.

The API is based on the same research that Google used to create Parsey McParseface, an open source parser for English text that the company released earlier this year.

The natural language API entered public beta alongside Google's already-announced Speech API, which lets applications take in recorded voice clips and get text back. By connecting the two APIs, it's possible for developers to build an app that can listen to a user's voice and then understand what that person is saying.

By launching these two services in beta, Google continues its competition against the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM, which are also launching intelligent capabilities in their public cloud platforms.

On top of all that, Google also launched one of its cloud platform regions in Oregon, a significant expansion of the company's public cloud capabilities. At first, customers will be able to use the company's Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, and Container Engine services, with more capabilities coming later.

Users in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles will see a 30 to 80 percent reduction in latency when using applications hosted in the US-West1 region compared to those hosted at Google's US-Central region in Iowa, the company said.

It's all part of Google's continuing push to increase its relevance in the rough-and-tumble public cloud market, where it faces fierce competition.

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