Google Translate Gets Word Lens & Realtime Conversation Translation

Today, Google has announced a major new update to its Google Translate application for mobile devices, including the iOS platform. 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 taking it to the next level and lets us instantly translate text using the iPhone’s 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.

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.

The update also brings real-time conversation mode, a feature that has been available on Android since 2013. Starting today, 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, letting you have a more fluid conversation. For the rest of the conversation, you won’t need to tap the mic again—it’ll be ready as you need it.

Google Translate is available for free on the App Store.