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AT&T launches an SMS-based language translation service called Muuzii

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An interesting new Spanish and Chinese translation service called Muuzii has made its way to AT&T’s(s t) 2G network. Unlike other app-based translators, Muuzii performs its translations using the most basic data channel on the phone: SMS.

Subscribers simply type an English phrase in a text message and send it to a Muuzii short code, and get back a Spanish or Chinese translation (depending on which language you register for). The service will also preform Spanish-to-English translations, though not Chinese-to-English.

There are definite advantages to SMS as a translation tool: It’s nearly universally available and doesn’t rely on the phone’s fickle data connection. It also means the service works on even the most basic phones – all it needs is an SMS client. The company also offers an enhanced service called Muuzii Speak, which will return an audio translation embedded in an MMS message. That audio file can be played in either an MMS client or a separate Android Muuzii app.

An example of three Muuzii services: Spanish to English, English to Spanish and Muuzii speak (Source: Muuzii)
An example of three Muuzii services: Spanish to English, English to Spanish and Muuzii Speak (Source: Muuzii)

The core SMS service costs $2.99 a month, while the MMS audio translation service is is $3.99. Both services will be charged directly to your AT&T bill.

Muuzii was founded in Beijing in 2007 by brother and sister Eric and Ling Fang, both of whom worked as English interpreters for Chinese businesses. In 2013, the company struck began working through AT&T’s developer program to bring its service to the U.S. It launched its first education-focused language apps in December, targeting English-as-a-second-language learners, and began trialing its full translation service earlier this year.

Muuzii founders Ling and Eric Fang
Muuzii founders Ling and Eric Fang

Muuzii’s service is exclusive to AT&T, at least for now, though the company said it plans to expand to other North American and South American carriers this year. Whether that means it will partner with other U.S. carriers or launch its service as an independent app remains to be seen.

On its website Muuzii is offering a free 14-day trial, which at first appears to be carrier agnostic. I was able to register on the service with my Verizon phone, but when I tried sending texts to be translated into Spanish, I received no response. It looks as if the service is tied specifically to AT&T’s SMS infrastructure.

3 Responses to “AT&T launches an SMS-based language translation service called Muuzii”

  1. Tony Anastasi

    Or you could just cut n paste into wechat app… And get live translations which is part of their instant messaging service app that’s extremely popular here in china… And all free. In fact about 99% of my 3000 contact list is on wechat here… sms is dead tech here. I can scan QR codes at restaurants and get their menu and order at my table and send the owner a message on what I thought of his dinner… Or book a taxi to pick me up etc.. Every company is hooked in on wechat.. Jump on any train and all you hear is wechat dings nonstop haha

    • EHFANG

      I am a Wechat user as well. Yes, indeed, Wechat in China is big, You will need data to access though and it is very common that everyone wants it for free in China. Muuzii’s technology is the accuracy of translation process regardless which platform. In North America, we still have a substantial percentage of population that is with no mobile data. In Central and South America, 80% of people has no mobile data today and mobile subscribers only relay on voice and text to communicate. The good thing about text messaging which is very active today still is the 100% unified user behavior in the world and supports every phone. 100 Million Chinese travelers to overseas, less than 10% can afford for data roaming, text is cheap and get you anywhere, any place when you needed. Like good old Texas barbecue everyone loves it. We are born to know how to text, we are not born to know how apps works and data roaming cost will make us all cry, unless you find a place for WIFI.