The Google Translate app for Android and iOS lets you type out words or sentences (or by speaking them) to get translations for dozens of different languages. You can also snap a photo of signs, menus, documents, or other real-world objects to get translations of written text.

Now you don’t even need to snap a photo — using the latest version of Google Translate you can just point your camera at an object to get a real-time translation.

word lens translate

A startup called Word Lens developed the real-time translation technology which not only identifies text, but also replaces it on your screen. For example, a sign which says “к северо-западу” in Russian should say “Northwest” on your phone’s screen.

Google acquired Word Lens last year, and now Word Lens support for 36 languages is baked into Google Translate apps for iOS and Android.

Google says it’s also updated its voice translation feature to let you convert spoken words from one language to another with fewer taps.

It seems like that real-time translation we heard about earlier this week is one step closer to reality.

via Google

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7 replies on “Translate with your phone’s camera: Google Translate adds Word Lens”

  1. The irony that the Google Translate app is being demonstrated with an iPhone

    1. Irony or clearly stated in the very beginning of the article?
      What’s more ironic is how much nicer some of goog’s IOS offerings are that the Android ones!

  2. I wonder how well that would work with something that has a lot of words, like a menu.

    1. Presumably under those condition you would have more time to use the more standard features, which would work well.

      1. Why would you want to try to type in or pronounce a bunch of foreign words? Having tried it, you would probably have it translate ever menu item separately, and just scroll down the page.

    2. Surely the app could give the user a way select a region corresponding to a line, and move it for each sub section.

      1. I’ve tried it now, and it seemingly would work on a menu, because as you suspected, it only translates words in a certain portion of the viewed image. Also, the setup pages when you first launch the new version specifically states it works on menus.

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