Google Translate app for Android translates text within photos


Google Translate photo translationI recently visited the Czech Republic and Austria, away from my hometown in the United States. I was armed with my phone and the Google Translate app, ready to translate anything that came my way. Now that I’m looking back at my trip, it would have been nice to have just used the camera to translate text rather than typing each phrase.


If you might be in a similar situation for an upcoming trip, heed Google’s recent update to the Google Translate app for Android. In the most recent update (v. 2.5), the app received the ability to recognize text within a photo. The app will then extract the text into the standard translator interface and translate it to a language of your choice. The new feature works similarly to the popular Word Lens application (available for both Android and iOS). Word Lens will instantly translate the text within the photo, making the result seem like the text was already in the selected language. While the Google Translate app doesn’t work quite as efficiently as the Word Lens app, Google Translate is a free alternative that will get the job done.


Having a translator that will translate pictures is a great tool for easily translating road signs, menus, instructional messages, and any other writing that you might need to read while traveling abroad. The Google Translate app requires that you select the text in the photo that should be translated. As I mentioned before, this isn’t quite as efficient as an app like Word Lens. Therefore, travelers might want to consider purchasing Word Lens. Word Lens translates all recognizable text instantly; no need to select the text and wait for a translation. This would be especially helpful for translating restaurant menus: all you would need to do is hold the phone’s camera to the menu and read! All of the recognizable text on the menu is automatically translated! The downside to Word Lens is that it only supports translating English to and from Spanish, French, and Italian. Additionally, the Android version costs $4.99 for translating to/from one language and additional languages must be purchased. For more language variety, Google Translate would be a handy backup to have since it is free. Essentially, purchasing WordLens is like purchasing efficiency. While Google Translate offers more languages to translate, WordLens offers the ease of use that Google Translate lacks.


Currently, Google Translate’s new camera translation feature is only available on Android 2.3 and higher and is limited to reading Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish. There is no official word that the update will reach iOS.

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