Google has introduced a paid version of the Google Translate API which will translate between more than 50 languages and can be used in commercial products.
There was an immediate reaction from developers to the news in May that Google was "deprecating" the Translate API and it would be shut off completely on December 1, 2011. Two weeks later Google responded to the furore with an announcement that it would provide a paid-for version of the Translate API.
Being cynical we wondered if including Translate in the raft of APIs being deprecated was just a foxy move by Google to make the paid-for version seem acceptable.
Today's Google Code Blog announcement proclaims that the paid version, Translate API V2, is now "open for business", although the fact that developers who started using it prior to August 24, 2011 will receive a "courtesy limit of 100K characters per day free until December 1, 2011 (or until the enable billing for their projects) suggests it must have been made quietly available without being heralded at some recent point.
According to product manager Jeff Chin:
The paid version of Translate API removes many of the usage restrictions of previous versions and can now be used in commercial products. Translation costs $20 per million (M) characters of text translated (approximately $0.05/page, assuming 500 words/page). You can sign up online via the APIs console for usage up to 50 M chars/month.
While business and commercial software developers will now have to pay, academic users will still have free access to the Google Translate Research API. The Android and iPhone translate apps remain free of charge as does the Google Website translator toolkit - the one we use on this site.
But there are bound to be some developers who don't have a way to pass on the costs of using Translate API V2 who will be deterred from experimenting with interesting projects. Perhaps Google could contemplate a small amount of free access, in perpetuity rather than until December 2011, for testing out projects before they go commercial?
Google Blog Announcement
Google Translate API V2 Developer's Guide
Google Translate API rescued - but at a price!
Google Translate API to close
Google dumps APIs
Inside Google Translate