DeepL is a Cologne, Germany-based machine translation service. It has highly accurate and nuanced translation results compared to the leading big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. DeepL is focusing more on high quality and accuracy compared to scalability. Hence, it is steadily adding languages to its platform only after they pass its quality controls. DeepL regularly conducts tests of its systems with human translation experts, to get subjective feedback on the accuracy and sensibility of its translations. Currently, DeepL supports automatic machine translation between 29 languages, focusing more on European languages. In this article, we review DeepL and take a closer look at the DeepL ecosystem of translation services.
The Origins & Milestones
We can say that the name "DeepL" is a play on "deep learning" as it uses deep neural networks for its translation models. Also, the "L" also stands alternatively for "Language", as DeepL is trying to bridge the gap between different languages.
DeepL translator started as a project at Linguee GmBH in 2016, with the team led by Jaroslaw Kutylowski. The free DeepL translation service launched in August 2017. At the time, it offered free translation between 7 languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Dutch. Then, DeepL Pro paid service started in 2018, offering API access, integration into other translation softwares, and an optimized web translator experience.
In December 2018, Russian and Portuguese were added. A major update was in 2020 when they made research breakthroughs in the neural network architecture. Soon after, they also added Chinese and Japanese languages, with their complex and huge script library, and culture nuances. In 2021, in another major update, 13 European languages were added to DeepL. The iOS and Android mobile apps for DeepL launched in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
How many languages does DeepL Translation support?
DeepL translator supports automatic machine translation between 29 languages as of November 2022. These 29 languages are, in alphabetical order:
Bulgarian, Chinese (simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (American), English (British), Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian.
Its CEO and Industry Leadership
DeepL translator was founded by Jaroslaw Kutylowski. Then in 2019, Jaroslaw Kutylowski took over the duty of the CEO as well. Over the last 6 years of its existence in public space, DeepL has established itself as one of the top players in the AI sector. It has the neural network technology that is capable of a never-before-seen level of textual understanding. DeepL's AI translation services are being used by a rapidly-growing number of corporations, individuals, and professional translators.
Accuracy of DeepL Translator: Blind Test Results & Critical Acclaim
Native speakers and experts of any natural language can easily tell whether a sentence or expression is composed accurately. Machine translation usually performs functional translation between languages. But often cultural nuances are missed, and expressions are applied where inappropriate. Also, literal word-to-word translation becomes something funny or nonsensical at time. Human translators and interpreters are likely to make more appropriate and sensible translations, because they have deeper expertise about the language, the culture as well as the context of any information.
Hence, DeepL has done a lot of work on their neural network architecture, their datasets and the mathematics used for implementing the models. They also collaborate with language experts, and conduct blind tests. This helps them to objectively compare the quality of their translations with existing popular translation systems.
Quality Comparison of DeepL Translations with other Popular Automatic Translators
The blind tests done with hundreds of lengthy passage translations, as evaluated by language experts, has revealed the following results. The human reviewers were provided unlabelled samples of translations done by DeepL, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. For Chinese, Baidu and Youdao were also included. We have quality comparison results for translation between English and 5 other languages: German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese.
DeepL translations were selected as the most superior samples overall in all the blind tests. They performed at least 3x better than the closest competitors.
1) English and German Translations
2) English and French Translations
3) English and Spanish Translations
4) English and Japanese Translations
5) English and Chinese Translations
Free Online Translation - DeepL Website
At the DeepL website, you can translate between any of the supported 29 languages. When you click on any word, it shows the meaning under the translation section. Thus, DeepL is a free translator with in-built dictionary tool. You can operate the DeepL website on any device with a browser. The limitation of the free translator is that it only lets you translate 5000 characters per 24 hours. In the free version of DeepL, you also cannot use many Pro features like full-page translation, document translation, unlimited translation, and customizable glossary.
DeepL Free Mobile Apps - iPhone, iPad, and Android
Camera / Augmented Reality (AR)
You can point your camera at any foreign language text, such as on newspapers, menu cards, bill boards and signposts, and get that translated to your favorite language. Thanks to this feature, they have removed the delay of entering text and getting translation, as you get live translations of your visuals.
Voice / Live translation
You can also converse in real time with foreign language speakers using the apps. Using speech-to-text and text-to-speech, the app can listen to a speaker, translate and play the translation in another language. This way tourists can easily communicate with locals using the app without having to learn the foreign language.
Free Desktop Apps - Windows and Mac
You can also keep DeepL translator handy offline on your PC and Mac. DeepL has desktop apps for both Windows and Mac. They come with keyboard shortcuts to translate any piece of text quickly, instant insert to make copy-pasting of foreign and native languages streamlined, and saving translations to create a library.
How to translate website content in different languages using DeepL?
You can add DeepL translator extension to your Chrome browser, and have the power of this free translation tool on any web page. Just highlight any text and translate it in one-click to your language of preference. The extension also creates a button in any text form to easily translate your writings into another language. This is useful for translating text in instant messaging apps that you can open in the browser, like WhatsApp Web or Telegram. The downside of DeepL free service is that the Pro features like full-page translation and document translation are not available. Still, you can select and translate text on any page upto 5000 characters per day.
DeepL Pro: Paid Translation Service Features & Pricing Plans
DeepL Pro is the paid version of this popular and accurate translation tool. The plans and pricing for DeepL Pro vary from country to country, to adjust for purchasing power parity. Thus, they aim to make their paid translation tools available at reasonable prices for every region. Unfortunately, users in all countries around the world cannot avail the DeepL Pro service. Currently, DeepL Pro only accepts credit cards in the following countries:
Japan, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, United States, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
There are 3 plans: Starter, Advanced and Ultimate for DeepL Pro, with billing done monthly or yearly. On the annual billing, you get to save 16%. In the US, DeepL Pro costs about $10 to $60 per month depending on the plan you choose.
DeepL Pro Features for Users
- Glossary feature: Insert your customized translations for specific contexts, to ensure that certain branding terms don't get translated or only a specific approved translation is applied.
- Full-page translation: You can automatically translate the entire web page with Pro.
- Unlimited translation: There is no daily or monthly limit on the number of characters or words that you can translate.
- Document translation: You can upload documents like PDF, PPT, DOC, TXT, HTML etc. and get them translated without affecting the formatting.
- Accessibility: DeepL follows Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). They provides site functionalities using keyboard, considers different screen & font sizes, provides text alternatives for images, and structures content for easy navigation.
DeepL Pro API for Developers & Integration
Developers can programmatically integrate all the features in DeepL Pro into third-party apps. DeepL Pro has API plans for developers with monthly cost control, detailed API documentation, and all the language translation features. So programmers and companies can use the DeepL API in other websites, as well as desktop, mobile and wearables apps. You can include the various translation services from DeepL like camera translation, voice translation, language detection, custom glossary, full-page translation and document translation into any product or service.
Limitations of DeepL Translate
- DeepL Pro access available in limited countries.
- It can do translations between only 29 languages.
- 5000 character daily limit for free users.
DeepL Translator translation is at least 3x more accurate than Google Translate and other popular translation tools from Microsoft, Amazon, Baidu etc. It has free web, desktop & mobile apps & a paid Pro service along with API access. Their highly accurate translations are thanks to quality control and work with language experts, innovations in neural network architecture, curation of valuable language datasets, and applying clever mathematical solutions on their language models.
DeepL regularly tests the quality and accuracy of its translations by doing blind comparison tests on various text samples that language experts evaluate. Although they support a smaller number of languages in comparison to other big tech translators, they are gradually expanding their language library. DeepL Pro service is also available in select countries but they should soon make it available globally to all the users worldwide.
We highly recommend you to use DeepL Translator to get accurate, sensible, and culturally-appropriate translations that will improve your communication with native speakers, and also your own understanding of foreign-language content.