WordLens is one of those borderline-magical apps that make me feel like I'm living in a scifi novel. The initial release was a little buggy, and the UI made it clear the app was a direct port from iOS. The 2.0 update just dropped, though, and it takes care of a lot of those issues.

2013-02-20 20.30.27 2013-02-20 20.29.53 2013-02-20 20.33.37

If you've never heard of WordLens, here's the deal: hold your phone up to a sign or some other thing with words on it, and WordLens uses your camera to translate those words to another language of your choosing in real time. The translations are overlaid on top of the live camera feed, which is kind of a wow moment (when it works). It even functions offline. The new update has supposedly fixed the nasty stuttering bug that made the app tricky to use. It has also ditched that busted interface for something a little more Holo-flavored. This comes with various smaller bug fixes and a new German language translation option.

Pricing for WordLens is rather convoluted. There is a free demo app, and a $4.99 paid app. The free version comes with no language packs, but does include test modes like text reversal and text white-out. Language packs can be bought via in-app purchases for $4.99 each. The paid app comes with one language pack of your choosing. WordLens currently supports English ⇆ Spanish, English ⇆ French, English ⇆ Italian, and English ⇆ German. The paid app also lets you buy additional language packs for $4.99. It can get expensive if you want to be prepared for incredibly spontaneous world travel. 

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play.

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

    This is such a huge improvement. It really doesn't flicker anymore, which was everyone's biggest complaint.

    Plus German!

    Can't wait to finally use it to its full potential in Spain during the MWC trip.

  • wewewi

    Yep; this is one of those apps that makes you think your smartphone is actually really smart.

  • Paul_Werner

    Once they implemented this into Translate with the update a while back I didn't look back. Too little too late IMO for this app

    • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

      On Google Translate?? The camera function there takes a photo, you highlight the text with your finger and then google tries to translate that. I didn't see any real time translation. Unless I'm missing something.

      • Paul_Werner

        Right, it does require the picture which is good enough for me. You take the picture and highlight the test with your finger. Sure there are more steps but it's free. No need to pay $$ to save a couple of seconds when performing the same function

        • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

          True. I won't be shelling out $5 for each language pack. No way in hell. I'll make do with Google Translate instead.
          That camera function doesn't give correct translation / recognize text half the time though.

  • anzensepp1987
  • Guillermo P

    If you ask me, don't buy it. The translation into spanish makes no sense at all, and i've seen many more examples than this one. Btw, i'm spanish.

  • Lou

    I will wait until they come out with a Japanese lingo pack.