Word Lens has been around in the mobile world for a long time, first arriving to iPhone in 2010 and later coming to Android in 2012. What makes the app so interesting is its ability to translate in real time by pointing your device’s camera at the text you wish to translate, and then it instantly translates right before your eyes.
While Word Lens is far from perfect in its translations and only is offered in a few language choices (English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian and Portuguese) — there’s tons of potential here, and apparently Google agrees. Google has now purchased Quest Visual, the company behind the app, for an undisclosed amount.
For now, Words Lens will continue to be available, but the long-term goal is to obviously combine Word Lens’ technology and expertise into the Google Translate experience. Considering Google’s wider range of resources and expanded language support, this is certainly an interesting proposition to say the least. Of course, Google already can do image translations but they’re not on fly like Word Lens — nor can Google Translate do it while offline.
In the meantime, you’ll not only be able to still get the Word Lens app, you’ll also be able to download all the existing language packs free of charge. Once the Word Lens team fully integrates into the Google Translate team? It’s likely only a matter of time before the app is officially canceled, though neither Google or Quest Visual come right out and say this.