As far back as July 2019, we saw evidence that Google was preparing an easy-to-access translate feature in the recents/overview screen. This was finally announced by Google as part of December's Pixel Feature Drop, along with a similar feature for screenshots, but it's not appeared since. It now looks like it's finally showing up, although only in the latest Android 12 developer preview.

The new Lens translate feature works as follows. If there's some information on your screen that's in a language you don't understand, you can quickly translate it from the overview/recents screen (swipe up from the bottom and hold). A small button will appear with a Lens icon that reads 'Translate.'

French and Spanish examples.

While we have been expecting this to arrive in the stable version of Android 11 as per Google's December Feature Drop announcement, we're instead seeing it only in the latest Android 12 Developer Preview update (version 2.1) on a Pixel 5.

It's quite possible Google has just flipped a server-side switch for a very limited number of people since we've not been able to reproduce this on any other Pixel device on Android 11 or 12. It's highly likely that it will only work on Pixel 3 models or higher and only if your language is set to US English. We'll hopefully see this come to other OS versions and Pixel models shortly, along with the screenshot translation feature too perhaps.

  • Thanks:
  • Nick Cipriani