Tech

Firefox avoids the cloud because of its privacy-enhancing translation service

In the context: Most translation services rely on remote servers and artificial intelligence cloud platforms to work wonders by turning one language into another. Firefox translations go the opposite way, offering something “cloudless” for privacy-conscious web users.

Even though Firefox is no longer as popular as it used to be, you can still count on Mozilla to do something different from the ubiquitous Google Chrome.

Case in point: The open source foundation is currently working on a new translation tool, a Firefox extension designed to respect user privacy. Firefox translations.

Unlike Google Translate, Bing Microsoft Translator, DeepL Translate and other similar online services, Firefox’s translation algorithms work completely offline. In other words, translations are done locally on the client side, Mozilla explains, using the system processor (the add-on requires support for the SSE4.1 extension to work properly) to ensure that “translated text does not leave your machine. “

Firefox translations currently support the following 10 languages ​​in “production” mode: Spanish, Estonian, English, German, Czech, Bulgarian, Portuguese, Italian, French, Polish.

Development is still ongoing to expand support for Russian, Persian (Farsi), Icelandic, Norwegian Nynorsk, Norwegian Bokmål, Ukrainian, and Dutch.

Mozilla works with Bergamot Project Consortium — whose work focuses on “machine translation done locally in your browser” — and several European universities to develop and further improve Firefox Translations. The project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, which should provide enough money to eventually get a decent offline alternative to Google Translate.

Mozilla recently released a new version of Firefox Translations (1.2), bringing some flexibility to the tool with support for free text translation. Previous versions of Firefox Translations could only translate full web pages at a time, choosing the system language as the only translation target; version 1.2 will allow users to paste any custom text into a new dedicated translation interface, as well as select a different target language. However, there is still no option to select text on a web page for direct translation.

Firefox translations are growing and improving at a steady pace, while EU funding should cover Mozilla’s development efforts and avoid the bleak future of Firefox OS and other recent offerings from the organization.


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