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Google announced a significant update for the Google Translate app for iOS on Wednesday, adding technology from Word Lens after it was acquired by Google in May 2014.

The Translate app already lets you use camera mode to snap a photo of text and get a translation for it in 36 languages. Now, Google is beefing the app with Word Lens augmented reality. 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.

Word Lens handles all processing directly on the device, in real-time, so no network connection is needed. The technology isn’t without its pitfalls. For instance, it won’t recognize handwriting or stylized fonts as it works best when used on clearly printed text like signs and menus.

This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Google is planning to expand to more languages.

Google also announced the iOS app will be gaining better conversation tools for two people speaking two different languages.

Google says you can 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. For the rest of the conversation, you won’t need to tap the mic again—it’ll be ready as you need it.

The update is available on the iTunes App Store for free.

Source: App Store via Google

  • GzyOnline

    hmm.. it’s 7AM PST, just went through my app updates, nothing for Google Translate.. searched directly for it and it’s current w/a date of Mar 6, 2014.. is this an iOS 8 ONLY update? -iPhone 5S iOS 7.1.2 ……bummer 🙁

    • Digitalfeind

      Re-read the ENTIRE article. Update in the next few days.

    • ZenyMan

      “Google says the update should be hitting the App Store in the next couple days.”

    • jaysoncopes

      You should probably hop on the iOS 8 train, buddy. We’re almost half way through the Apple Calendar and you’re still an operation system behind!

    • firerock

      I’m on 5s 7.12 Jb and I can confirm that I just updated and it’s awesome

  • Zzyzxd

    They should bring back Google Goggles.

  • marg

    i cant find the translate with the camera option (“The Translate app *already* lets you use camera mode to snap a photo of text and get a translation for it in 36 languages”). i know that they have that on android but i never saw it on ios…

    • Alberto Espinal

      Not out yet, it will be in a couple of days.

      • marg

        I meant that he said there is already an option to use the camera (OCR) not the augmented reality coming soon

  • Finally I was wondering what they were doing with their purchase. The word lens app was pretty good itself..

  • Byron C Mayes

    Yeah, this is major. Word Lens was a pretty smash bang app! And now we won’t have to pay extra for the ability to use in full!

    • ‘Ariff

      thing is it’s now an online thing. you can’t set it offline. So if you were travelling, you’d have to be on roaming/have a data plan to enjoy

  • therealjjohnson

    Umm…this is some pretty amazing stuff when you think about it. As a child I couldn’t imagine most of the stuff that were using today. It’s been a gradual process so the jump in technology doesn’t seem so big day to day…but when I look back on childhood versus now, I’m impressed.

    • Jamessmooth

      I was just thinking the same thing… we’re in the FUTURE!

  • Sero Eskandaryan

    Hopefully they will also update the app for iPhone 6/6+

  • Ferit Birinci

    Update has released. Give it a try..

  • marg

    Its out

  • Joseph

    For me, the separate Word Lens app is better, because it doesn’t need an internet connection to use, unlike Google’s Translate app.

  • ‘Ariff

    Awww that sucks that it’s online.