When Google acquired Word Lens in May 2014, it was clear that it was only a matter of time until the startup’s impressive visual translation technology would be folded into Translate. That moment is coming today – Word Lens integration and improved voice translations are coming in the latest Google Translate update.
Word Lens lets you point your smartphone to a foreign language text and have it instantly replaced with your language of choice, right on the screen. Until this update, you could scan text with your device and have it translated and displayed into a text box, a clunky experience in most cases. Word Lens removes that friction, and everything happens in real time. Street signs, restaurant menus, product labels, there are tons of situations you could find it useful.
This genuinely amazing capability will be available in English, coupled with French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish. That means you will be able to translate from English to French, and the other way, but not from French to Russian, for instance. Google says more languages are coming.
The second big feature in this update is instant voice translation. Before the update, translating speech required tapping the mic button each time someone said something, as well as switching between languages in order to accommodate the other speaker. Now that all happens on the fly, because Translate understands different languages without requiring your input.
This feature should make for much more natural conversations, akin to having a human interpreter on your side, translating the back and forth in real time.
The new Google Translate should start rolling from today – we’ll keep an eye out for other features potentially present in the update and for an APK file.
What do you think of these new features?