Japan’s unique language makes calls to other countries a challenge: locals often don’t have much choice but to brush up on someone else’s language or hope there’s a Japanese speaker on the other end of the line. If all goes well with NTT DoCoMo’s planned Hanashite Hon’yaku automatic translation service, international calls will be as comfortable as phoning a store in Nagano. As long as a subscriber has at least an Android 2.2 phone or tablet on the carrier’s moperaU or sp-mode plans, the service will automatically convert spoken Japanese to another language, and reverse the process for the reply, whether it’s through an outbound phone call or an in-person conversation. The service will bridge cultures starting from November 1st, when it will translate from Japanese to Chinese, English or Korean. Indonesian, Thai and five European languages are coming later that month. If you’re not that patient, NTT DoCoMo will provide a holdover on October 11th through Utsushite Hon’yaku, a free Word Lens-like augmented reality translator for Android 2.3 that can convert text to or from Japanese with a glance through a phone camera.
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