Google Announces the Ultimate Translator for Smartphones

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( — January 16, 2015)  — Language barriers soon will not be an excuse to avoid traveling to some foreign country. Google has updated its Translate app to do voice and sign translations with real time word recognition. By just pointing your smartphone at signs, menus or whatever you want to understand, the transcription immediately appears on your screen.

A new version of the Google Translate application from the California based internet giant will help people all around the world to better communicate.  Google, however, doesn’t only see this application useful when traveling abroad, but also says that the the app will be helpful to various professionals like teachers, doctors and police in multi-lingual communities.

Right now it’s capable of translating French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian into English, but is expected to become available in more languages.

The real breakthrough though is that the standalone app that works independently of the internet.

“We’re taking it to the next level and letting you instantly translate text using your camera. 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,” the Google team writes on their official blog.

“If you are looking at a restaurant menu, it’s nice to see which thing on the menu you are looking at so you can point at it when you order,” Octavio Good, who developed the technology, told AFP as he used his iPhone to scan and translate an Italian pasta recipe.

There is also a conversation mode in the new Google Translate, which uses voice recognition to translate both sides of a conversation in different languages. People can use up to 38 language options; an automated voice then speaks the translations as well as displaying them in writing on the phone’s screen.

Officials from the Google said that voice translation has been a feature of Google on Android phones for a while but now “faster and more natural,” version is available on Apple’s iOS.