Google Translate, the frequently-overlooked wonder app of the 3rd millennium, got some new features today. Chief among them is an amazing new image-based translation mechanism. The app now supports use of your camera to take a picture of the text you would like to translate. Once that's done, just "brush" over the word or phrase you need to read and Translate will do what it says on the tin: render that text in your preferred language. It's not quite WordLens' live view, but then, if you've ever used WordLens' pause feature, you know that slowing things down a bit might actually be helpful.

translate1 translate2

Another neat feature is the ability to see translations appear as you type. With the speed of Google's suggested searches, Translate begins guessing the meaning of your text before you finish inputting it. It's impressive, to say the least. Of course, this doesn't necessarily increase the utility of the app, but it sure does make it nicer to use.

All in all, Translate continues to do what it does best: be amazing at breaking down the language barrier while not getting a lot of publicity. The translations themselves continue to be rudimentary, as is expected. After all, it's not easy to simplify the languages of the world into a simple algorithm, especially as they continue to evolve. Still, everyone should have this app downloaded to their devices. This update only further drives that point home.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    It's one of those apps that you only use very rarely, but when you need to, you're glad it's installed. I have that and WordLens, and I think I'm pretty set.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

      I thought you would be okay considering you are bilingual Artem. Or is it the odd Spanish word you aren't sure about? XD

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        I'm trilingual, but yeah, it's the languages I don't speak that I need help with - Spanish, Italian, German, French mostly. And an occasional Esperanto, of course.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

          Esperanto? Now I thought that was deprecated from society a looooong time ago. XD

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            I thought sarcasm was clearly conveyed on the Internet.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

            Now I feel stupid.

          • Brian_Barker

            Esperanto is more widespread than people imagine. It is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide. It is the 29th most used language in Wikipedia, ahead of Danish and Arabic. It is a language choice of, Skype, Firefox, Ubuntu and Facebook and, as you know, Google translate recently added this international language to its prestigious list.
            Native Esperanto speakers, (people who have used the language from birth), include World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet. Financier George Soros learnt Esperanto as a child.
            Esperanto is a living language - see http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

            Their online course http://www.lernu.net has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per day. That can't be bad :)

  • denbo68

    It doesn't use the camera to translate from every language. When I select Chinese the camera icon disappears though it will reappear when I select a romance language (French, Spanish, etc). Overall still pretty good and at least you don't have to worry about getting a seizure like with Wordlens.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

      I think Google Goggles only supports Spanish, French and German and that Google Translate uses the same technology.

      Google Translate is a useful application and was extremely convenient when I was on holiday in Italy. Good to see Google adding some features and optimising it!

  • ChumbleSpuzz

    Does it still require a network connection to work? If so, then unless you have an international plan, this won't work when you cross the border. Word Lens' dictionary is stored on the device. It worked great for me in Mexico with my phone in airplane mode to avoid roaming charges.

  • http://twitter.com/TheLowEnd1 Jon

    For a student transitioning from Mandarin to Traditional Chinese, this update is AHAHAHAMAZING