Google Translate update seeks to break language barrier

Your smartphone can now instantly translate text across eight different languages, even without an internet connection, thanks to an update to Google’s Translate app. Google has updated the app’s Word Lens functionality so that words are translated instantly on your screen when you hold up your camera to them.

Users will now also be able to start a conversation without having to designate a language first – the app will automatically translate for both sides of the conversation once it hears two languages. This technology has existed for some time, but marks a substantial step forward in terms of ease of use.

Barak Turovsky, from Google Translate, said: “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, 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.”
Until now, the text translation tool took several seconds to work and an internet or data connection was required, while users had to specify languages before speaking into the microphone using the conversation tool.

Both the camera translations and conversation mode are new features for iPhone owners, who use iOS.
“This instant translation currently works for translation from English to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish – and we’re working to expand to more languages,” Mr Turovsky added.
The Google Translate app is currently used by more than 500 million people each day, according to the technology giant, and the app is already used to make more than one billion translations every day – with Google hoping the new features they’re introducing will push these numbers up further.
“Today’s updates take us one step closer to turning your phone into a universal translator and to a world where language is no longer a barrier to discovering information or connecting with each other,” said Mr Turovsky.

Google has told Android and iOS users to expect to see an updateto the app appear in the coming days.

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