Google has announced a set of interesting updates for its Google Translate apps for Android and iOS, adding Tap to Translate, Offline, and Word Lens in Chinese features. These improvements will be particularly useful for the over 500 million people who use Google Translate outside the United States, Google says.
Here’s what’s new.
Tap to Translate (Android). This new feature helps you translate text without having to copy and paste it from another app first: Just copy text in any app and a translation will pop up in place, with no need to switch apps. I assume this feature cannot be duplicated on iOS, but Tap to Translate works on 103 of Google Translate’s languages on any Android phone running Jellybean (4.2) and above, Google says. It even works offline too. Amazing. (You can watch this video to learn more.)
Offline Mode (iOS). This is already available on Android, but iOS users of Google Translate can now use the app while offline too. You will need to download language packages for this to work, but Google has shrunk the size of these packages by 90 percent, to just 25 MB each.
Word Lens in Chinese It’s not clear, but I think this feature is available on both Android and iOS. With this update, Google Translate’s best feature, Word Lens, now works with 29 different languages and lets you get instant visual translations. It reads both to and from English, for both Simplified and Traditional Chinese. “Try it on menus, signs, packages, and other printed text,” Google says. “As with all Word Lens languages, it works offline.”
This looks really impressive, and I’m very interested in testing Google Translate and Microsoft Translate while in France this summer. As you may recall, Microsoft Translator for Android was recently updated to support image translation, which is a bit like the Word Lens feature in Google Translate.
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