Google Translate Just Became More Magical

Chris CrumTechnology

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Google just launched a major update for Google Translate, which enables users to point their smartphone cameras at words (such as on signs), and have them instantly translated.

Before, you could snap a picture, and Google would translate the words for you, but now all you have to do is point the camera, and the image will change to a translated version right before your eyes. Pretty awesome.

The technology is Word Lens, which is based on the app Google bought last year.

"The Translate app already lets you use camera mode to snap a photo of text and get a translation for it in 36 languages," says Google Translate Product Lead Barak Turovsky. "Now, we’re taking it to the next level and letting you instantly translate text using your camera—so it’s way easier to navigate street signs in the Italian countryside or decide what to order off a Barcelona menu. While using the Translate app, just point your camera at a sign or text and you’ll see the translated text overlaid on your screen—even if you don't have an Internet or data connection. "

The feature works for English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. It will be expanded to additional languages in time.

The Translate app also now speeds up its real-time conversation mode.

"Starting today, simply tap the mic to start speaking in a selected language, then tap the mic again, and the Google Translate app will automatically recognize which of the two languages are being spoken, letting you have a more fluid conversation," Turovsky explains. "For the rest of the conversation, you won’t need to tap the mic again—it'll be ready as you need it. Asking for directions to the Rive Gauche, ordering bacalhau in Lisbon, or chatting with your grandmother in her native Spanish just got a lot faster."

The new features are rolling out to Android and iOS over the coming days. iOS users have never had camera translations or conversation mode in the app, so this will be an even bigger update for them.

According to Google, Google Translate is already used to make over a billion translations a day.

Images via Google

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.