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Google Integrates Word Lens Into Google Translate App

Google Integrates Word Lens Into Google Translate App

Word Lens used to be a separate service, but now Google has finally incorporated it on the Google Translate mobile app. Word Lens works by using a smartphone's camera to instantaneously translate written text. On top of that, it replaces the on-screen text with a translation that is as close and as accurate to an exact replica as possible, which means that font, color, and background hue are taken into account.


When it is spot on, Word Lens is amazing. But when it is not -- well, let us just say that many a user has encountered pretty awkward and sometimes downright hilarious results when the translation misfires. 


To date, World Lens can translate from English to Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian, and vice versa. To set it up, users need only download the app and make sure to set the languages to be translated first. To use it, one just needs to tap the camera icon.


However, a word of caution: Word Lens uses up a lot of battery power, and some even report that it heats up smartphones sometimes.


Functionality-wise, Word Lens works best the text to be translated is clearly legible and well-illuminated. It also helps if the text uses a simple font. If it is overloaded with decorations and other graphical elements or skewed, the results may be hit or miss.


Still, even if it does not hit the bull's eye, World Lens does manage to translate well enough for users to figure out the intended message, or at least have a little idea of what the text is trying to say. If anything else, it does serve as a great companion piece for the Google Translate app and should be of great use especially to travel-happy users.


Apart from incorporating Word Lens to the Translate app, Google's update also makes foreign language conversations flow quicker. Users just need to tap the mic to start speaking in a specific language, and then tap the mic again so that the Google Translate app will automatically detect which language is being used, facilitating more fluid conversations. Moreover, for the remainder of the conversation, one will not need to tap the mic again. It will be ready to use whenever it is needed. 


According to Google, the updates to the Google Translate app will come to both Android and iOS platforms in the next few days. It should be noted that this will mark the first time that advanced features (like camera translations and conversation modes) are made available to iOS devices.