Google Translate Now Reads Foreign Signs, Offers Real-Time Voice Translation

Star Trek’s universal translator is coming closer to fruition, and we have companies like Microsoft and Google to thank for the advances in this field. Microsoft’s Skype Translator, which is currently in beta, translates Skype video chats in both English and Spanish. Now, Google will soon update its Translate app for iOS and Android with two new features that we first told you about over the weekend.

The first new feature is the new conversation mode that makes real-time translation and conversations “flow faster and more naturally.” Users first select the two languages that will be spoken and then hit the microphone icon to begin speaking. The app will automatically recognize which language is being spoken and offer the resulting translation. From that point forward, the process of switching between speakers and spitting out the translation is handled automatically by the app.


The next new feature expands upon the existing functionality that allows you to snap a picture of text and receive a translation (currently available in 36 languages). Word Lens now allows you to instantly translate text by pointing your smartphone’s camera at a sign (or any other text) that’s written in a foreign language to receive the translation directly overlaid on your screen. You don’t even need a data connection for the feature to work, which is an added bonus. You can see the process in action in the gif below:


The instant translation feature works with English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. We should expect to see that language-set expand greatly in the future as Google further fleshes out its Translate app.

According to Google, the latest update for the Translate app will be available for both iOS and Android in the coming days.