As is their wont, the folks at Google pushed out a nifty new update for its Translate for Android app earlier today, and it packs a handful of new goodies for the lexically inquisitive to play with.
The feature that’s gotten the most love is the app’s new camera support (seen above). Curious users can snap photos of foreign text from directly within Google Translate, and furiously swipe their fingers over the specific tidbits to be translated.
It’s maybe not the most novel idea we’ve seen — Google Goggles tried a similar trick back in 2010, and the ever-popular Word Lens arguably does with it more panache — but it’s a welcome addition to the mix nevertheless. Just don’t expect it to play nice while scouring the back streets of Yunnan province, as the app can only translate text in Czech, Dutch, German, Turkish, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Italian, Spanish, French. Itching to give it a spin? All you need is a decent Internet connection and an Android device running 2.3 Gingerbread or later.
As always, the rest of the changelog is a bit of a mixed bag. Text being pecked out gets translated instantly (a la the service’s web version), and speech input has improved support for regional dialects so your natural accent won’t get in the way of things. On of top that, Japanese scholars will also be glad to know that the update brings support for writing out multiple characters by hand.
Google Translate For Android Gets Pumped Up With Picture Translations
If you ever wanted to be able to read text on a street sign or on a menu in a restaurant when abroad, your smartphone might be able to help you soon. Japanese electronics company Omron has developed a smartphone application that can instantly translate (short) foreign texts you come across – firing up the app and pointing the phone’s camera at the text in question is enough.
Omron says that in its current form, the app (which isn’t available yet) can handle English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. Translations are superimposed over the text shown on the display (in the picture below, you can see three items on a Korean menu shown in yellow Japanese letters).
Users aren’t required to take pictures, as translations are delivered based on live images. Omron says their app can also handle text captured in bad lighting conditions or from difficult angles.
Japanese business daily The Nikkei is reporting that the company hopes the app will be pre-installed on smartphones released within 2012.
Word Lens is a very similar app (available for iOS), and in fact, Japanese companies have been working on mobile translation solutions like this for years.
Augmented Reality App Instantly Translates Foreign Text On Signs, Menus
Remember Word Lens? That crazy, awesome mobile application that translated words inside of images, like road signs, posters, menus, and the like, from Spanish to English (and vice versa)? Well, now the app has added a third language to its repertoire: French. With the most recent app update, Word Lens can translate from English to French and back again, but not between French and Spanish.
A year ago, Word Lens was all the rage, after its long-awaited release – the result of two and half years’ worth of work from founders Otavio Good and John DeWeese. The app blew our collective minds. The thing was magic. Using OCR technology to “see” the words in front of the smartphone’s camera, Word Lens takes advantage of augmented reality to superimpose the translated words on top of the foreign text. All background images that aren’t text are removed, too. (See, augmented reality isn’t totally useless!). And even better, the app works offline thanks to its downloadable dictionaries.
The app itself is free, but
each dictionary costs $4.99 correction: each dictionary is $9.99. (French-English and Spanish-English). Translations in Word Lens aren’t perfect, but then, few digital translators ever are. But it’s usually good enough to get the point across…and maybe save you from ordering the wrong item on the menu or finding your way around town.
You can grab the updated Word Lens from iTunes here.
Bonnes Nouvelle! Word Lens Parle Français