Everyone uses Google Maps, but not often do we consider where, exactly, all that data comes from. When a new road goes in, or a bypass, or the name of a street changes, it isn't as if your local city reaches out to Google to make sure everything is up to date. Some of that used to come from user submissions in the Map Maker forum. Now those tools are being rolled into Maps itself, but that's not the only source of information. Google's fleets of Street View cars collect an insane number of images, and nestled in with them are pictures of businesses, street signs, and addresses, and Google's latest research blog post goes into some interesting details about all that potential data. Read More
Google's Goggles is all but abandoned now. We've seen Google resurrect apps from the dead and update them after years of neglect, but it's hard to imagine the company putting a fresh coat of paint on Goggles at this point. If only because the app has been superseded by others from Google, with its functionality cut off into little pieces and moved to various places inside the ecosystem.
But that doesn't take away from the fascination and respect that Goggles deserves. It could recognize landmarks before Google Photos, read and translate text before Google Translate, use OCR on images before Now on Tap, and even solve sudoku puzzles, scan and add contacts from a business card, and find and suggest similar products — all options that have yet to be transplanted into any other Google app. Read More
Google Now on Tap sounded ridiculously cool when it was announced last year, but the reality of the feature has been lackluster to say the least. Google is apparently toying with a feature that could make it much more useful. Some users are seeing optical character recognition (OCR) as part of On Tap, but the implementation seems very early. Read More
Optical character recognition, also known as OCR, is really an amazing technology. If you aren't familiar, it takes images and reads the text on them. For PDFs, it can make the words it finds searchable, selectable, and whatever else you may want to do with them. The better implementations of OCR work well enough that they pretty much make CAPTCHAs pointless. And while Google Drive has offered this function in English for over a year now, it is now rolling it out to over 200 different languages.
Doing so is easy as pie. In Drive, just go to an image or PDF and open it with Google Docs, like you see above. Read More
The Verizon Galaxy S4 started seeing a new software update earlier today, but there was no word on what it contained. Verizon has yet to update its support docs, but Samsung has been so kind as to post the details of firmware version I545VRUDMI1. As expected, it's a minor bump that keeps the device on Android 4.2.2.
We were all very excited to hear about the Google Docs for Android announcement this morning, and even more so when we learned it came with a special surprise feature: the ability to upload photos of physical documents from your Android phone and have them transcribed by Google Docs into editable text.
So, the first thing I was curious about, naturally, is just how well this new feature works in the real world. As you may have guessed from the title, not very. Let me show you the photos I tasked Google Docs for Android with transcribing.
- Document 1: Printed handout:
Document 1 results:
OF CONSTITUTIONAL ANALYSIS ON DEFAMATÍON
PUBLIC OFFICIALS GENERAL PURPOSE PUBLIC FIGURES
LIMITED PUBLIC FIGURES WHERE MATTER OF PUBLIC CONCERN
LIMITED PUBLIC FIGURE WHERE NOT MATTER OF PUBLIC CONCERN
PRIVATE PERSONS WHERE MATTER OF PUBLIC CONCERN
PRIVATE PERSONS WHERE NOT MATTER OF PUBLIC CONCERN
Have you ever been in a foreign country and tried to find your way around, order from a menu, or read a map in a language that you don’t understand? Language barriers can be incredibly frustrating, but we found a new app designed to go head-to-head with iOS’s Word Lens that can help you next time you’re in that kind of situation.
CamTranslator is a new app from IntSig that is designed to help break the communication barrier between languages using your phone’s camera. It includes a massive collection of over 50 languages that will translate both ways, two different modes of translation, and a few other quaint features. Read More
Goggles Translate (OCR)
Fresh off the press, Google just announced that the latest update to its Google Goggles for Android (1.6+) introduces a Translate feature.
The app currently supports the following input languages:
and can translate them to a much bigger set of languages which I just jotted down (from the app itself):
Google promised support for more Latin based languages soon, with non-Latin based languages coming after.
To use the feature, just snap a picture of the text or use the "region of Interest" (pictured below) button and draw the desired shape around the words you want to translate. Read More